Factors that Influence Blood Alcohol Concentration in a Drinker

Any food or drink ingested by a person undergoes metabolism by the body. This metabolism affects the blood concentration of the substance taken in. There are several factors too, that affect the blood alcohol concentrations of drinkers.

To be able to understand this fully, one should know that after alcohol is ingested, it goes to the stomach, then to the excretory organs of the body namely: the kidneys, liver, small intestines, skin and lungs. For alcohol, the major excretory organs are the kidneys and the liver. When these organs could not eliminate alcohol, then it stays in the bloodstream.

Alcohol drinking, Image credit:

Aside from this common metabolic pathway, here are specific factors that could influence the blood alcohol concentration in a drinker.


When the stomach is full, this slows down the entry of alcohol into the bloodstream. It is because as the stomach digests the food, alcohol mixes with it delaying its entry into the small intestines where most of the alcohol is absorbed into the blood.

If the stomach is empty, the alcohol goes down directly to the small intestines and into the bloodstream, increasing rapidly the blood concentration of alcohol. So, if a person would not like to get drunk easily, he should eat first before commencing to drink.

Functions of the kidneys and the liver

If all the drinker’s organs are normal, the body could eliminate one standard alcohol drink (10 grams) per hour. If the kidneys and liver are dysfunctional, this would significantly reduce the body’s ability to excrete alcohol; hence, it goes into the bloodstream.

This is the reason why smart drinkers space their drinks at least one hour before drinking more. The time interval, though, should be increased, if a person has kidney and liver conditions. The skin pores and the lungs also help in the excretion of alcohol, so having sponge baths could help eliminate alcohol from the bloodstream.

Concentration of alcohol in the drink

The concentration of alcohol is expressed in proof. Proof indicates half of the alcohol concentration present in the drink. A 45 proof alcohol indicates that the alcohol concentration in that particular drink is 90% (percentage of alcohol per volume). If the concentration of alcohol in the drink is higher, then it follows that the concentration in the blood would also be elevated. The more concentrated the drink is, the more concentrated the blood alcohol is.

Body weight or mass

Persons with larger body mass would have delayed entry of alcohol into the bloodstream. This is due to the dilution of alcohol by more body fluids. The alcohol passes through larger routes too preventing direct passage of alcohol into the blood. This would lower the blood alcohol concentrations. That is why women, generally, have increased blood alcohol concentrations than men because men usually have larger body areas.

In summary, the blood alcohol concentration of a drinker depends upon how fast or slow his body would be able to eliminate the alcohol from his system. The slower the process is, the more alcohol goes into the bloodstream. On the other hand, the faster his metabolism, the lesser the alcohol concentration remains in his blood.

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