What's in a blood alcohol level?
October 26th, 2011
05:50 PM ET

What's in a blood alcohol level?

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday recommended the legal limit for driving drunk be lowered from .08 blood-alcohol content to .05 in an effort to reduce alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, which kill about 10,000 people a year.

Your blood-alcohol level can vary depending on your age, weight, previous alcohol and drug experience and the type of alcohol being consumed.

"You can drink alcohol faster than you can remove it from your body and that's when your blood-alcohol level goes up," says Robert Pandina, Ph.D., and the director of the Center for Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes the body roughly one hour to metabolize a single drink but the definition of what constitutes a drink changes depending on the alcohol. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

"If you keep drinking alcohol, it's not going to get metabolized any faster just because you've consumed more of it," explains Pandina. "Metabolism happens at a fixed rate until all the alcohol is processed."

Pandina calculates that a woman weighing approximately 110 pounds would have to drink between 12 and 13 ounces of 80-proof liquor in an hour to reach a blood-alcohol level of 0.40.

"It's still a lot but it's far less than people may imagine," says Pandina.

A person may need medical attention with a blood-alcohol level under 0.2. Vital functions may start to shut down before someone reaches 0.25. Death is possible with a blood-alcohol level of 0.3. And that's without prior liver damage from previous alcohol or drug use. A person with a damaged liver is at higher risk for catastrophic or fatal alcohol poisoning because his or her  liver cannot effectively metabolize the alcohol.

"The message is very simply when you know someone has been drinking and drinking heavily, don't wait," says Pandina. "It's quite possible to revive individuals even at very high alcohol levels and keep them from having catastrophic effects."

soundoff (1,600 Responses)
  1. Cindy

    It doesn't matter how much alcohol is taxed or how much the price is increased, people will still buy it, just like they still buy cigarettes at 6 or 7 bucks a pack. If there was a simple answer to control the use of alcohol and drugs, we would have a lot less addicts in this world today. However, this is not the case.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. dickburnz

    People, please:

    you are = you're belongs to you = your

    October 27, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Caliban

    No sympathy here, Amy as well as many others killed themselves. Just like people won't have sympathy for me if I get lung cancer. I smoke and I know it may kill me, and I don't care, so why would anyone who kills themselves with smoke, alcohol or even food get symapthy, we did it to ourselves. In this day and age you can only blame yourself, but humans like to pass the blame around and barely ever take responsibility for their own actions.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Rick Springfield

    The interesting thing is that when people have alcohol toxicity, they are given charcoal in order to absorb any left in the gastrointestinal tract. They are also given dialysis. All things that kind of ruin the high.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JeanneLH

    When's the last time you've seen a 5 oz wine glass. Five ounces are the size of glasses that come out of your kitchen water glass dispenser, those little plastic things.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. BobZemko

    It's god's way of taking out the trash.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cutty

      We'll keep that in mind when you're hit by a bus or something.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  7. Yep..

    We tend to promote alcoholism as a disease in far too many situations. There is generally a root cause as to why many become alcoholics, childhood trauma and coping alone is a #1 cause. Yes, there are chemical differences in the brain of alcoholics. Does that make it a disease? or is something else missed. We also know that the childhood trauma victim, untreated and the child coping alone, risks a chance of a physical change to their brain. There you have it, the differences in the brain of an alcoholic and the traumatized child. Yes, considering physical changes to the brain, chemical changes in the brain may now make better sense.

    Why do we assume alcoholism is hereditary? Consider that childhood trauma is many times a family concern, a cycle that spans generations. And when people tell you they were never traumatized? Consider that most children who were traumatized and coped alone, likely have it deeply tucked away from present awareness – a self-protective mechanism.

    AA should never be your first choice, a good Dr of Psychotherapy should. AA is about cognitive and that just doesn't work when there are other factors that may be more serious. And yes, those can be helped.

    The key here is childhood trauma when the child copes alone. It does not mean trauma such as losing all family member since those traumas generally were coping assisted. <– most will live normal lives. What is referenced here is trauma resulting in significant fear where the child was threatened from telling anyone and coping was in complete aloneness.. (This is why the Catholic Clergy abuse and the threats as directed by the Vatican was so damaging. This caused many victims of lost lives to come forward much later in life. And now, a much worse trauma they deal with which is the realization of a lost life. Many of these children later committed suicide, many mentally ill and others living lives of chaos. This is why we need to be more caring with victims who have taken a long time to come forward.)

    See a doctor first..

    October 27, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Renny

      You have no idea what you are talking about. As I mentioned before, 600,400 doctors in America consider Alcoholism a DISEASE. It's amazing the ignorrance and arrogance that people think "they know better". People that can stop with "will power" are not alcoholics, they are heavy drinkers that can still function in most areas of their life. Alcoholics have many layers of dysfuction and genetics to deal with than a "heavy drinker".Alcoholics have biological issues, toleranace, craving, withdrawal, co-occurring disorders(bi-polar, adhd, mood disorders, depression, acute aniety disorders, PTSD, etc) powerful unconscious codependency patterns(which are rarely adressed), genetics, deeply buried abuse and trauma issues.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
  8. Malmec

    I have yet to regret getting sober...

    October 27, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SoberDale

      Neither do, been sober just over 11 years now. At my worst, I could guzzle a 12oz flask of Vodka in 30 seconds. Sometimes I'd be functional (barely) a 1/2 hour later, sometimes not. Why I'm not dead is completely incomprehensible to me. An active alcholic rarely makes rational choices when it comes to drinking or not – so while you can say that drinking or not is a "choice" I honestly don't think that its a choice that many active alcholics see as viable. I think you have to have lived it to understand it and if some folks here think its is weakness of character then so be it. Alcohol as a disease? I've always thought that was a bit of a stretch but I think it fits more than most other descriptions I've seen.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • j

      I wish I was sober

      October 27, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • SnafuBob

      As an alcoholic I'm surprised I've not experienced alcohol poisoning; then again I may have and simply didn't realize it, certainly I'm not dead. Before I became sober I would drink on average a fifth of vodka 80 proof a night, sometime a fifth and a pint on top of it all within an hour of making the purchase. I consider myself an alcoholic still yet despite the fact I've not had a drink in some time. I don't crave it like I used to, I avoid going by liquor stores just to resist the urge. I'm a functioning alcoholic, in fact most of my fellow employees never knew I had a problem or if they did I was never questioned on it. Depression was one huge factor for my use of alcohol, coupled with the fact I have trouble sleeping. I would ultimately use sleep as an excuse to plaster myself and pass out, knowing that I wasn't truly getting sleep. I must say, since I've stopped drinking I feel far better than I have in many years. For years I would avoid going to AA meetings or talking to anyone about my problem. I ruined my marriage because of my problem, though my ex-wife and I have since worked on our issues and are back together, not only for ourselves but for our son, coupled with the fact we never truly stopped loving one another. I regret having ever turned to alcohol, it tends to run in my family so I'm told; although I feel everyone is responsible for their own actions. I don't really believe in the notion that it is a disease like many want to label it, it is a dependency if anything. Just like obese people eat themselves to death or drug users. I'm no doctor or shrink by any means, just experienced. Glad to see another person over come their addiction, stay strong.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • FatSean

      I'll never regret consuming alcohol responsibly.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • SnafuBob

      @FatSean I started out drinking socially and responsibly, many factors led to a downward spiral for me, most notably myself. If you're able to drink responsibly then more power to you. My regret comes from the knowledge of those I've hurt over the years. I challenge you stand back and take notice if your consumption is truly hurting someone, if not then no harm no foul. I don't know you, and certainly I'm not taking any issue with you, again I commend those who are able to drink responsibly; I simply wanted to justify why I have regrets.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • NickG

      Deciding to get sober is definitely the best decision I have ever made.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • swatts1

      There but for the Grace of God go I.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
    • jonathan

      Then you've never met Foster Brooks... 🙂


      October 27, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • elle

      I ralized early on in my alcoihliism that hard liquor would knock me out even before it made me drunk. I switched to wine, on which I could drink all night, seemingly, and still remain somewhat functional and avoid blackouts. Every alcoholic is different. Toward the end of my drinking, I got drunker in a shorter period of time, of course, as my body deteriorated. Also, the euphoric "high" that alcohol had once delivered so reliably was gone. I drank merely to avoid withdrawal.

      Fortunately, some friends took me the ER one night. I recall the doctor saying to me, "If I had your blood alcohol I'd be dead." All I could think of was how to obtain another drink. Sheer madness.

      Fortunately, I've been sober now for 26 years and had the blessed gift of a great career and parenthood because I quit while still young. I had the time to rebuild shattered relationships and make amends. If you're alcoholic, never stop quitting. Every day is a chance to quit anew. Use every resource - AA, support groups, God or non-God, self-help books - Keep trying to reach your goal of sobriety. It's a blessing of indescribable value. It's everything. You won't find happiness or meaning at the bottom of a bottle, not ever.

      Maybe it's not "fair" that some people can drink moderately and be chic and be wine snobs and clink glasses and wake up feeling great. That's not us alcoholics. Just like being a Martian is not us. That is a different species. Accept reality and start claiming the life that is yours.It's waiting for you.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • Shelia

      God bless those of you who have given up alcohol. I lost my sister ten years go to alcoholism. Blessings to you and your family for your courage and endurance on such a very hard road of recovery. My sister tried several times, but the alcohol always won her back, and eventually claimed her life, and with it a huge part of my heart.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
  9. yaddyaddyYWN


    October 27, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kalyn from FL

    Wow... what a lack of respect an empathy for someone who had a deep seated problem. When any of you die, I'll remind myself to give you all the same amount of respect: zero.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sauce

      You don't know any of us and wouldnt care anyway

      October 27, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • Pest

      I'm sure I won't care what you say or do when I'm dead.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Act Like It

      What a stupid thing to say. You are trying to make your point of how rude people are being by saying that you will do the same thing. It gets said over and over again, but idiots like you do not comprehend. "Change starts with you!"

      An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind ...

      October 27, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  11. Trent

    I have no sympathy for alcoholics. You put yourself in that situation, you deserve what you get.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boocat

      And I have no sympathy for intellectually challenged people like you.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Your level of ignorance is astounding. I just hope no one you care about ever develops alcoholism. Idiot!

      October 27, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      We will have no sympathy for you when you die either. However you die, well, you put yourself in that position. What a careless dweeb you are. Do you care for anyone? So, if your child dies of alcohol poisoning, you won't have any sympathy for him or her? Do you even smile often.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
    • Alison

      It's an addiction and I can see where it comes from, therefore I feel for people that end up addicted to anything.

      HOWEVER, I don't feel bad for people that have been told they have a problem and refuse to do anything to change that. Especially those that have the means to do so, such as Amy Winehouse.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
    • Pest

      Why discriminate? I have no sympathy for anyone.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse |
    • NJBob

      @Alison - You don't understand addiction.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • ljhays

      Bad history, Trent?

      October 27, 2011 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
    • Don

      You're a moron.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
    • gtoisbest


      You have no idea what you are talking about.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • Heidi

      Many alcoholics have co-morbidities such as depression and bi-poliar disorders which preexist their alcohol dependence. People do not choose to have those disorders. Once they become dependent they are indeed ill becaise it alters their thought processes severely. People have to participate in their recovery but you are oversimpifying a complex problem.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
    • swatts1

      Alcoholics don't have friends or families – just hostages they take while in their addiction. I find it completely understandable that Trent feels this way. This is why I got sober as soon as I realized I had a problem – I didn't want my kids to feel that I didn't try.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
    • Rhehudio

      You know what haters get? Neither do I.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
    • Renny

      There are 600,400 MD's in this country that have classified alcoholism as a disease...but you know better.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse |
    • Chris Honry

      There is no such thing as an "addiction" or "disease". It's a simple lack of self control. Period.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
    • ANM86

      Wow Trent, words spoken with such ignorance...I am a daughter of an alcoholic mother and let me tell you it was hell growing up. It took her almost drinking herself to death for 30+ years for her to realize she needed help...she said she needed it and knew she did years ago but that vodka bottle controlled her, like it does so many. Betty Ford Center saved her life and I can only pray she continues to stay sober...but to not have any sympathy, is heartless. Walk a mile in their shoes before you talk and realize it's not just that person alcohol controls or hurts, but their family and friends too.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • Shelia

      Dear Mr. Trent,
      Life is not over yet. Who knows what lies around the corner for you and what ghastly horrors may await you. Perhaps the compassion you lack today will be the compassion you long for tomorrow.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    You make sense good. It's alcohol that a celebrity chose to music with. People are problems but she's not there. Dead is good for alc. People care about things other than music. People smart like you know alcohol is not music.

    October 27, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Americaneedsrealists

      Huh???? Is that english?

      October 27, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
    • Blorf

      Hands in the air! Step away from the computer....

      October 27, 2011 at 20:46 | Report abuse |
  13. david c.

    david c.

    Alcohol and drugs are both a choice and an addiction...I was raised around both...I made the choice to do both for many years...and yes I eventually was quite addicted. I finally chose to stop for many reasons including health and not raising my kids the same way I was raised! It was very difficult to stop both...but with proper help I have lived sober and happy for many years now. My personal opinion is its a choice not a disease..I have alcoholism going back many generations on my moms side and I was able to break free...as were my siblings...Its ok if someone disagrees with me...thats your choice...I made mine!

    October 27, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim

      Thanks David. Well said and well received. Glad to hear you overcame it. Take care.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • Trace

      Congrats to you Dave and best of luck on your path to continue sobriety,

      October 27, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • beadlesaz

      Perfectly stated
      and without any hatefulness.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
    • aduklips

      You said "with help". That's the key. If someone is truly an alcoholic, the drinking can't be stopped alone. I've read comments by people who said they were alcoholics, and quit on their own. By my definition, they weren't addicted; rather, they were abusive drinkers.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  14. Swizz

    The interesting thing about alcoholism....it's the only "disease" that you are guaranteed to not get, simply by not overconsuming alcoholic beverages. Other people's comparisons to cancer are way off base and, in my honest opinion, completely inappropriate.

    My father was an alcholic for many years. He would drink 18 beers a night. While drunk, he crashed his car into a ditch when my mother was pregnant with my sister and it freaked him out so he quit cold turkey and has never had a drink since then (our parent's house was completely "dry" growing up, and still is).

    I come from a family riddled with addicts (drug and alcohol) so I am all too aware of the devastating effects that addiction has on a family. I am also aware that my odds of becoming an alcholic or addict are significantly higher because of my family history yet I am not an addict and have a completely healthy relationship with alchol (my sister chooses not to drink at all).

    Based on my own experience, it is no question in my mind that alcoholism starts as a choice. People don't just pick up one beer and all of a sudden become alcoholics. Addiction is caused by numerous decisions over a period of time. After a while, your body will crave it and that is where it can be considered a disease but it will always start out as a choice.

    I do have sympathy for addicts and I am willing to give help to anyone who wants to get clean (girl scouts can keep their cookies, I donate my money to drug and alcohol rehabs) but I don't refer to it as a disease because my sympathy does have it's limits. One grandfather drank himself to death, my other grandfather died of bone cancer. While it was equally devastating to each family, it is a perfect example of this entire debate of "choice" vs. "disease".

    October 27, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cuso

      This is all very true!

      October 27, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
    • philojazz

      Your post was very sincere and informative, Swizz. I just wish that you could have a few minutes to talk with "Trent" (see a couple of posts away from yours) about your family's experiences with alcoholism. There might not be any "right" answers to some of these questions about alcoholism, but there sure are a few wrong ones out there. Keep strong, man, and keep telling it like you saw, and see, it.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • D

      Nice, except that medical science has proven that the bodies of alcoholics process alcohol differently from "normal" drinkers. As long as an alcoholic, or even a potential alcoholic, doesn't drink the first drink, all is well. Once the alcohol is in there, the phenomenon of craving begins (and that's not just in the mind - also the body) and the cycle starts.

      Sure glad I don't have to have the debate anymore!

      October 27, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I really admire you for donating money to rehabs. And for you offer to help others on this post. So many people are negative on here. It's nice to read some actual discussion and hear personal experiences. Thanks to you and most others posting on this topic. It's helping me (seriously).

      October 27, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • maecb

      David C and Swizz.... very well put. My husband is an alcoholic. Was always his choice and his addiction, even though it is said to be genetic. He has been sober for 15 years, and the "cure" is in the choice. Like drug addiction, the individual has to want to help themselves and continue to help themselves. I'm am very proud for what he accomplished. I would compare it to a disease only because to stop does not make it go away, it is always there. To stay away can be a life-time struggle for some.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • aduklips

      So, how does someone with no close family history of alcoholism become an alcoholic? By choosing to drink, sure – like almost everyone else drinks. But unlike most people, the alcoholic gradually becomes dependent, mentally at first, and then physically. Anyone who says that an alocholic CHOOSES to be in that state is just ignorant.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  15. NeuroscienceAddict

    Addiction is a brain disease: addicts have physically different brains than non-addicts, which has been proven by MRIs of human brains. The structural differences in addicts' brains alter the way addicts think and what motivates them. That is, they alter the choices they make. For a detailed analysis of what makes addiction a disease, check out http://www.addictscience.com.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mat D

    This is a very subjective experience. I have had a blood alcohol test (not breathalyzer which is wildly inaccurate) result of .36% and was fully conscious and functioning with no ill effects. It all depends on the person in question. I do not recommend testing your limits, but some of us are not affected the same way and in Ms. Winehouse's case it was fatal.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      You, my friend, are lucky to be alive.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • Mat D

      That's the thing. I am not lucky. It did not have a particularly bad effect on me, I wasn't any worse off than most people after a few drinks. For some people that level might be bad, but it wasn't for me. That is why alcohol can be dangerous is because there is no one size fits all.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • Lynn1234

      Umm...that would be "tolerance"....

      October 27, 2011 at 16:27 | Report abuse |
  17. DLaP

    That's a straw man argument. No one is "arguing" that.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Derek

      and not a very clearly written one at that!

      October 27, 2011 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  18. Amarpreet

    There is help for anyone out there suffering from addiction – help that is 100% successful if you follow the directions.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Amarpreet

    Alcoholism is a choice....If it wasn't, then you wouldn't be able to choose to work the 12 Steps, which are 100% successful when implemented as suggested.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sad

      Actually AA is only about 5% effective.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      100% my A$$. Harvard University did a study of 11 different methods of treatment, AA was the least effective and had the third highest fatality rate of any available method of rehab. AA works well for some people, I know people who would be dead if it wasn't for AA – but to claim there is a one size fits all solution to a problem as complicated as addiction is sillyness.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
  20. Rick

    You are a buffoon and a fool. Amy Winehouse was an extremely gifted and talented entertainer and her loss is deeply felt by many.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Housewine

    All alcoholics get a sobriety date sooner or later. Amy now has hers.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Me

      You, sir, are a troll.

      October 27, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  22. woodofpine

    Hmm... Cared enough to read and post – but still can't spell alcohol... Brain damaged for sure!

    October 27, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. KLF

    And furthermore Dan relating to your comment regarding WhoCares' comment: If acohol is music and good sounding when played. Then good alcohol make bad music sound better.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Semper Fi

    Why is it that these tragic happenings are only news worthy when they affect celebrities. People die of alcoholism every day yet no one seems to care or talk ab
    out it unless it affects the so called rich and famous...

    October 27, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anna

      The flip side of that coin is that whenever something like this happens & is widely publicized, it motivates many regular folks to seek treatment. A friend of mine is a social worker at a drug and alcohol treatment center in Austin, and they had record-breaking admissions the day after Ms. Winehouse's death.

      October 27, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  25. TED

    Would love to know if there was any reported deaths from smoking pot every day .

    October 27, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MemeInjector3000

      Exactly, yet one is legal and the other isn't. It's impossible to OD on cannabis. I always feel crappy after drinking too much, but after smoking a lot, the worst I've felt is a bit of indigestion due to eating a 3-lb plate of nachos!

      October 27, 2011 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  26. T.rex

    Quitting drinking is a definite choice, and i don't feel sorry for nerds.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Ji

    Some of these comments reveal the truly ugly side of the human animal. No compassion. Insensitive and racist. Ugly.

    It's sad that Amy died the way she did. Alcohol abuse is an addiction, it is NOT a disease (of the body or brain). People drink for pleasure or to numb themselves from their lives and problems. That's it. It is a choice. You can stop an addiction in it's tracks by not picking up. The trick is to stay sober. For some people, AA is the answer. I don't think it is. I think AA prevents you from taking personal responsibility for your life and your addiction by turning it over to some metaphysical "higher power" and muttering simplistic phrases. It's not something "out there" that is going to save you, it is what is "inside you" that will. Your addiction is a part of you but, like a beast, it can be tamed and controlled. YOU don't want a drink - IT does. If you want to stop – and only if you want to stop – you will stop. You may feel more comfortable in a group like AA or you may feel comfortable doing it on your own. A great book to check out if you are having problems with addiction is Jack Trimpey's RATIONAL RECOVERY. He drank heavily for 20 years and then just stopped. Cold. He couldn't tolerate AA and realized he had to do it all on his own. This book explains addiction thoroughly, how your addiction trips you up into relapsing and how to defeat it. He gives a very clear explanation of how to quit on your own. The gates of change can only be unlocked from the inside.

    If you've had no experience with addiction, you have no place making inane and dispassionate comments. You're revealing your complete stupidity.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SnafuBob

      I turned to AA, not because of a higher power; personally I'm an atheist and the meetings I go to do not focus or shove the "higher power" reference down my throat. Your correct in the fact it is a choice and not a disease. I choose to attend AA meetings to finally air out my problems with those who have been down the same road as I have, to share experiences and play cards. It helps to know that you're not alone in dealing with issues you have chosen to take in life.

      For years I knew I had a problem and was skeptical about attending meetings. I've read many books concerning alcoholism and I did quite cold turkey. It was after I quit that I finally found courage to talk to complete strangers (at first) about my problems, and to hear them out only to find their cases so similar to my own. Each person has a different means of helping themselves, and yes some turn to God as an answer, as long it helps that person or persons what is the difference?

      October 27, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  28. Anna

    While I agree that picking up that first drink is a choice, research is now showing that what happens beyond that is not a choice for some. Some people are genetically hard-wired to develop alcohol dependence, while others, no matter how much they drink, will never develop true dependence.

    Source: I'm a social worker who works with alcohol-dependent people. Check out http://www.utexas.edu/research/asrec/ if you want to learn more about alcoholism.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • beadlesaz

      Anna – thank you so much for your post. Alcoholism is NOT a choice. There are people who are addicted to alcohol from their first sip. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and a drunkard father – and there is a difference. My father quit drinking 20 years ago while my mother quit 5 months ago (when she died.) My mother rarely had more than one drink – but there was an immediate personality change when she ingested alcohol – and never a day passed that she didn't have that one drink. She had incredible will-power but she was an alcoholic who never quit drinking. And, thank you for the work that you do. I admire anyone who works with people who need a bit of help to get through life.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
  29. jeff6187

    I drank until I was 27. Heavily and irresponsibly. I had one really bad episode of an enlarged liver ... so large that I woke up in great pain if I rolled over in my sleep. Ah those were the days. At 27, when I quit, I was grateful that I no longer felt compelled to behave in ways that were certainly killing me. I was also relieved that no more damage would occur. At 51, it turns out, that was a bit naive. The damage we do in our 20's is still there in our 50's, only now we're more susceptible to it's harmful affects. I have gout, and a slight enlargement of liver and pancreas. The gout flares up once in a while, and the two enlarged organs give me a regular reminder of my past. None of this is particularly devastating, but all in all, I wish I didn't have to fend off those occasional painful or groggy days.

    So to you 20-somethings, please don't assume that you can stop "any time you want" and then that "the side effects will all go away when I do". Everything we do to our bodies, be it alcohol, drugs, fatty foods, high impact sports, job stress ... everything has it's price. And like credit card debt, always seems to linger longer than we'd hoped.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SnafuBob

      Well said.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  30. snake

    i wish i could quit drinking. it must be one of the most powerful addictions to break. i once smoked a pack to 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes a day fro 20 years. smoking was hard to quit but nothing like alcohol.

    October 27, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • snake

      if i had the resources that amy whinehouse did, i'm sure i could be alcohol free. but some people really love that juice even when it is killing them. please god, give the the will to defeat this addiction on my own because i have no insurance, money, and must continue working to support my family. no way i could afford months of in patient treatment.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
    • Trace

      Snake, you need to get your family behind you and support 100% in over coming your addiction. If you don't have the family support seek medical treatment.You may even need both. A lot of insurance companies do offer help for those who are trying to quit.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
  31. Panties

    I drank myself to death. I have been dead for 5 years and 8 months.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Whynot11

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a gal I know. Her name is "Moderation".

    October 27, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. fuzze

    Alcohol is not my thing but let's just say i had other bad habits. It makes me laugh when people say JUST STOP doing what your doing. Those people have absolutly no clue and are always holier then thou.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • beadlesaz

      Ah, so true, Fuzze. I always think how wonderful it must be for them to be so perfect.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
  34. opusxking

    Ok listen, most of the people on here commenting are just ignorant and have no idea what they are talking about. I am an alcoholic and I do. So here, take it or leave it, but here is the deal. Someone on here wrote: "My father drank a 12 pack a night for years and the DR. told him to stop and he did, but sometimes he can have a few on ocasion and he is fine." So then he didn't stop, thats clear you said so that at times he still has a few. 1. There are heavy drinkers that are not alcoholic, that can stop, and some like your dad that can stop and have the ocassional. A true alcoholic can stop at times and sometimes a long time, but without some kind of on going solution, will without fail always end up drunk again. The inability to stay stopped. So it is a choice to pick up the first drink, but something happens in the mind of an alcoholic (without help and a on going solution) that make that choice next to impossible to fight.I don't care how strong they are and how much will power they have in other areas it is just this way when it comes to alcohol. So some say it is not really a choice. So I (an alcoholic) would have to say from my own exsperiance, by defeinition it is a choice to pick up the first drink, but without help and a ongoing solution it really is not a choice but inevitable, and in most cases fairly quick. . . So if you are not an alcoholic, then you really have no business speaking on this matter opinion or not, because you are totally uncapable of understanding and still will be after you read what I write here. It would be like me explaining to a women what it is like to be a man, vice-versa...might have a better idea but thats about it and your opinions will most likely remain the same. How ever once an alcoholic does have the first drink, all bets are off, there is no choice but to continue the physical compulsion sets in and nothing will stop you from continuing on other then being locked up or hurt ect. ect. So is it a disease? Some say it is. I dont know and it really doesn't matter. All I do know as an alcoholic is that I have tryed many different ways to stop and stay stopped and have found nothing worked untill I found Alcoholics Anonymous and worked with other alcoholics on a regular basis, and actually did/do what the people that have sucess in the program/fellowship do. I do not know why this program/fellowship works, I have no idea, but it does and to me thats allthat matters and all that I need to know........ Please do not reply if you are just going to tell me how i spelled things wrong or grammar or just want to run your mouth to run your mouth, I just wanted to make an honest effort to explain alcoholism from the mind of an alcoholic and did not come on here to babble or tell you about something I have no idea about like so many come on these forums and do. Thank you for your time. Anonymous

    October 27, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim

      Thank you. I am very impressed at how many people on here are sharing their stories, both ups and downs. Finally a post where MOST people are talking and sharing. Very informative. I like it when people are open, honest, and aren't afraid to say "that's just my opinion" or "that's what I experienced", and to do it without judging others, name calling, and hatred.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • snake

      alcoholism is not a disease, it is an addiction that is almost impossible for some to break. for an alcoholic like myself, it is NOT A CHOICE. it is a powerful craving that i cannot control. sometimes, it controls me. smoking was easy to quit in comparison.

      October 27, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  35. Molly

    My dad was an alcholic and it was extreamlly hard to deal with growing up. Like some say it's a choice you make, mine was not to touch it, my brothers was to try it and allthough they are not that bad, it's still hard to see them when they do. Trying to avoid all that, I ended up dating one, it was so hard seeing him every day drunk and the smell I can't get over it. he would be passed out all the time and the few times he wasn't it was great to look at him in the eyes. When he finally reached the lowest point was when we all turn our backs towards him, he had no one to help with his addiction it's when changed. he detoxed on his own for weeks before rehab and it was the worst I've ever seen him. Now he's much better and looks great, it's scary though when he picks up a beer, I always have that in the back of my mind if he will fall back. He said he won't but no one knows for sure but him since he has the choice to.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. FormerLoser

    I read in the Denver Post about a guy who chronicled his time in a rehab. It was pretty good reading and helped me understand my brother, who is a raging alcoholic. To that ignorant guy who posted he had no sympathy, you should read this guys message on how hard it is to get and stay sober. http://www.snapshotsfromrehabranch.blogspot.com I think is the site.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Don

    Yet cannabis kills zero people a year and it's illegal. Ignorance reigns. (rolls eyes)

    October 27, 2011 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. FormerLoser

    snapshotsfromrehabranch.blogspot.com – this is that blog I read about in the Denver Post about the guy in rehab, sorry, I left it off my previous post.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. augustghost

    Bottoms up kids

    October 27, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. San Goody

    Humans pick up the worst habits: Drinking is up there as one of the worst. Drinking is got to be a sign of retardation.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. CEL1

    What is sad is that people who drink too much are in pain, mentally, if not physically. No one is dealing with how to help them over their pain. No one cares.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Nikko

    I feel that it is a disease. I had my first quart of beer when I was 14 and drank continuously until I was 64. I now have been sober for over a year, the only reason I quit was after having gall bladder surgery drinking made me really sick for some reason. I did quit cold turkey and was at the time drinking a pint of vodka every evening and much more if I went out. The problem was/is that if I have one sip of alcohol, I have to have more, it's hard to explain but that's how I am. I too am from a family riddled with addictive personalities going back at least 4 generations. I am one of the lucky ones, never got in trouble, no wrecks, dui's, family problems or major health problems and my children are far from being daily drinkers, thank God they took after their mother. If I knew it wouldn't make me sick, I would start back in an instant, after 50 years I really miss the buzz and relaxed feeling. Now, even after a year, I can't relax or sleep but I'm hoping someday I will. I have known many friends and relatives who died from alcohol related illnesses. Treatment is out there but it doesn't always work. I found out over the years with both Tobacco (quit 20 years ago) and alcohol, if you really don't want to quit, no one is going to talk you into it.


    October 27, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. MOJarry

    Why are the healthiest people I know Beer drinkers?

    October 27, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Religious sects

      Because you don't know enough people.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  44. Stephen Michales

    As a man who been an active member of AA for over 14 years. Attends no less than 6 meetings a week I I have seen first hand what drugs and alcohol does to people. What I do know is that addiction takes and give nothing back.
    One of the best things that I ever read about what addiction is all about was written in a book I read years ago. A New Pair of Glasses.
    It was written by a long time now deceased AA member Chuck C.
    It goes like this.

    I was born with a physical allergy of the blood that became a mental obsession of the mind.
    It first separated me for G-d.
    Then from all of you.
    and them finally myself.

    I just told you my life story and the story of many alcoholics and addicts.
    One we picked up our first drug or drink our G-d became Alcohol and Drugs.

    The end of what Chuck C wrote says... The only way that I can get all the things back is with rigorous honesty.

    By the grace of the G-d of my personal understanding and the fellow ship of AA. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of the program which I live my life by today I will go to sleep sober tonight.

    Something that active alcoholics and drug addicts will not do tonight. If there is a heaven I hope that Amy Winehouse is there.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. sameeker

    To all of you making smart remarks and being insensitive – Put the big mac down before dogging people for their vices. Most things that humans indulge in are unhealthy. If you choose to sit behind a desk all of your life and not exercise, wake up with a triple shot of caffeine, eat junk food, drive your SUV, and lay in the sun every summer, don't expect those that you are dogging to have sympathy when you need medical care.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. William

    Nothing better than Gin on a Saturday night. God it makes you feel so good.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Johnny

    I switched from alcohol to weed years ago. I'm healthier, feel better, and never get hangovers any more. It also saves me a lot of money because I grow it myself in my back yard.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. William

    Drinking alcohol is such a major part of human history and culture...it's sort of abnormal not to drink at all.

    October 27, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. big mack

    For every single alcoholic individiual out there that has been cured or liberated from it: Congratulations! I'm one of those. I'm thankfull God free me from it. I pray that everyone hooked up on it may be freed from it also.

    October 27, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Religious sects

      You freed yourself, take credit for it. It's a great achievement you've accomplished & others can do it too without needing to turn to a God.

      October 27, 2011 at 16:21 | Report abuse |
  50. Katie

    Too many people tend to think of drinking and drugging as social activities and they think that just because a person maintains quite well it's not an addiction and the problems others have with it is on them. It doesn't take much to become addicted and it doesn't mean a person is falling down drunk, passes out every night, or begins stealing to keep himself supplied. Addicts are all around us every day. The addicts fool themselves too – they don't 'have' to do it, they can go a day or two without. Then something happens that affects them and everyone around them. In the case of my father, it was the fact that his body just started shutting down. He went from being a fully capable human being to one with multiple chronic health problems requiring round the clock care. Oh, and he also went through three wives and seven children, all of whom have our own stories of how his behavior and his stubborn refusal to accept his addiction affected them deeply.

    October 27, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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