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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

SWArticle: The Biology of Alcohol: Thing You Didn’t Know

<ving experiences involving alcohol may make one more aware of it, but it does not make one an expert. Here are some facts you may not know:

When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, about 20 percent of the alcohol is absorbed through the lining of the stomach and about 80 percent is absorbed through the small intestine.

The speed at which the body absorbs alcohol increases with the concentration of alcohol and any carbonation in the drink. On the other hand, food in your stomach when the alcohol is consumed will decrease the speed at which the alcohol is absorbed.

After absorption, alcohol enters the bloodstream and dissolves in the blood. The blood carries the alcohol throughout the body which is why it affects many different parts of the body and the brain.

Once alcohol has been absorbed into the bloodstream, the body responds to alcohol in stages, which corresponds to an increase in Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

Stage 1: BAC of .03-.12% is euphoria, signaled by self-confidence, a shortened attention span, and impaired judgment.

Stage 2: BAC of .09-.25% is characterized by excitement, during which a person may have less coordinated body movements, become sleepy, and have trouble remembering or sensing things.

Stage 3: BAC .18-.30 percent is marked by confusion, staggering and becoming highly emotional, followed by stupor at BAC .25-.4 percent.

At a BAC of .35-.50 percent, coma can set in, including unconsciousness, decreased body temperature, and possible death.

Every person will make decisions regarding alcohol in his or her lifetime. Those decisions are best made knowing the effect alcohol has on the body and mind. If you have any other questions about alcohol, ask your SWAs!

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