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."
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
As tragic as this is, this article does not apply to most drinkers, even heavy drinkers. 0.4??? Are you kidding? Twice the legal limit is pretty dame drunk, and that's 0.16. If you're at 0.4, it is not a surprise of the result.
But, don't try to scare all drinkers into thinking that is going to happen. This was a heavy rare case.
Money is a disease
My good friend just died from alcohol poisoning just this last Monday. He was a college graduate with a degree in economics, held an excellent position managing a multifaceted chain of stores, had an educated wife & 4 children (now all college grads). 9 years ago alcoholism took him over & (after repeated attempts to help him through communication, intervention & rehab) he lost his job, his wife & estranged himself from family & friends only to end in his death at 52yo. The "how blitzed can you get" culture surrounding alcohol needs to change.
i drank from the time i was 21 to at least 43 almost non stop. my liver became really swollen. my legs swelled up with fluid. my face was puffy and bright red. i was in lots of pain from my liver. pluss shortness of breath.
the doctor told me if i would of drank just 2 more weeks i would of died.
the good news is how well the liver can regenerate its self.
i quit drinking and smoking. it took close to 3 years for my liver to stop hurting. i kept feeling better and better month after month.
now i'm healthy my liver doesn't hurt my face isn't red and puffy anymore, and i feel great.
if you think your health is to far gone to quit, it may very well not be.
the liver can regenerate even if a little bit is left alive.
end of story. i'm feeling better then ever.
I have always had very low tolerance to alcohol. I binged when I was younger but stopped that before I was in my thirties. I am now in my 70s and I can feel the effects of drinking just one bottle of beer or glass of wine. I don't understand it. I could never finish a six pack of beer or a fifth of vodka. I don't know why this quick response to alcohol exists. Maybe I should just be grateful but somehow I feel cheated.
alcoholism isn't a disease...addiction IS. If it wasn't alcohol it would be something else in it's place. It is the result of weak willed people who can't control themselves because they have something wrong with their brains.
its not racism...its the fact the people of color are not as smart as normal people
I have something of color for your mouth.
hard to licker quicker! dam near did myself in when i was 16, chuggin' a 1 litre bottle of mixed hards i got from the ol mans liquer cab. was by far the stupidest thing i ever did. 3o yeas later and i think i can still smell the vomit all over me and its a dam good thing i had a stoner buddy with me or i may have drown in it. can't say i'm sober but i do keep it to beer only!!! hmmm sure wouldn't mind gettin sober though....
Man , I need a drink after reading this ... wheew
Wow. I'm impressed! This article had 4 or 5 thoughtful responses before degrading into the predictable "I'm smarter, better, richer, prettier, etc..." and "you're a troll"...crap.
Why do I find myself scrolling down to the comments before finishing some of these CNN articles? Maybe that says something about the entertaining value of the articles themselves... Hmmm.
I found a girl in the washroom after she drank a lot of vodka. We couldn't get her to wake up so we took her to the emergecy room. They tested her blood and she was .45 . They got her to wake up after a while and held her for observation. Talked to her acouple weeks later and she said they let her out next day, she was fine , just felt drunk for a long time.
Darwin award. Unless someone put a gun to your head and forced you to drink that much alcohol in a short period of time, you will get no sympathy from me.
You do understand that She was in London (England, Europe, across the pond) And Obama was in Washington DC, right? I'm gonna come out and say it Billy; Your allegation of President Obama's culpability is a bit of a stretch.
LOLOLOL!!! It's Obama's fault?!?! I hope you're kidding!
If you represent teabaggers, then I am glad to read your comment. It pretty much cinches that you probably won't find a shoe to put on or know where to go in order to vote for whatever loser you think you ought to support for President. Thanks for the laugh. You will probably die with your secret.
Amy was drunk who worked for years to kill herself and finally succeeded, as to you trying to lay blame on Obama, well let's just call that stupid and you a moron.
You are truly an idiot
Obama's fault? You exemplify the 100 proof stupidity of the Tea Party.
I kinda of like this way of thinking. As far as you libs are concerned everything was and is Bush's fault including blizzards, quakes and hurricanes. Interesting when complete foolishness is on the other foot.
Hey folks, this is all in fun. Obviously, Teabag is just playing the part for parody purposes.
That reminds me, I need to get home. I've got too much blood in my alcohol stream!!
Who cares about a wealthy woman who makes millions. I am so sick of hearing about this person who was at best mediocre. She did what she did. She is worthless, nothing more, nothing less.
Be sure to drive home
MARIJUANA HAS NEVER KILLED A SINGLE PERSON!!!
So the people who get hit or crashed into by stoned idiots who are driving under the influence don't count?
There are thousands of people every year being killed over marijuana in Mexico, and the violence is spreading.
pot doesn't kill people, pot kills your drive and ambition.
i love pot, but legalizing it will do far more harm to generations to come, it'll kill their drive and ambition. it's great for those of us who have already achieved success but it will absolutely obliterate the drive, discipline and work ethic of children if we as a society condone getting high, but like i said, i love it, but that doesn't it's wise...
Bill, by that logic we should make diamonds illegal. People get killed over the diamond trade every year. You can't make something illegal and then argue that it's dangerous when the danger came from making it illegal in the first place. If you remove the illegality the deaths would cease to exist. How many people get killed from the illegal cigarette trade? Not too many. Try making cigarettes illegal and I bet you the illegal cigarette trade would start and people would get killed over it too.
@ mike...r u burnt out? Pot destoy familys and people switch from pot to harder drugs to maintain that high high that they can no longer get from pot, don't be a burnout, it kills people in other ways goof...
But "stupid" is a drain on the living.
Smoking pot can give you various cancers just like smoking cigarettes can.
Pot has NEVER KILLED a human being? Ok...let's see the proof, moron.
People say marijuana is a "gateway" drug....what is alcohol then? There is a difference between using drugs (illegal, legal and pharmaceutical alike) and abusing drugs. Many people use and abuse alcohol which obviously is a drug, same with marijuana. Not the drugs, it's the people that use them...can educate people but they will do what they please.
marijuana has killed many and it makes you extremely stupid.
Marijuana destroys families? Gateway drug? Cancer? There is no proof pointing towards any of these inaccurate arguments. These folks sound like people who listen and believe something blindly.
I think Omniscient may have the worse stance, given that person actually smokes it. Just because you lack motivation doesn't mean that I do. Try looking at yourself before blaming weed.
Maybe in your brain damaged view of reality!, Dude smoke another joint Man!!!.....
I have a friend whose lung collapsed from smoking pot.He does not smoke ciggs but has always smoked pot. He had to give it up or he was going to die,
The marijuana-o-phile woke up!
No pot does not directly kill anyone. But when you drop out of college and become a minimum wage earning store clerk and go on food stamps/welfare we all get to pay for it with our taxes. And that is where the majority of heavy pot users end up. I have yet to meet a person who is truly successful who got there by smoking an eighth a day.
A teen age boy,here in Anchorage and while high on marijuana,killed his step mother and stuffed her bodi in a freezer.Yeh,marijana kills
Its really a shame the amount of ignorance out there involving cannabis. I see people are still buying into the old wivestales. It has never killed anyone directly. You can drink too much water and die, so anything can kill you. It NOT addictive. Mentally yes, it can be. But so can anything. Smoking it can cause lung irritation. Not a good way to use it. It is classified by the govt. in line with heroin, which is insane. We are in a sad state of affairs right now, people wake up..please
Bob. The kid who killed on pot wouldve killed on twinkies. Trust me
Sure it has, buddy. It's called Lung Cancer
Tcat. I guarantee your the kind of person who sterotypes blacks, hispanics, asians, etc. you sound like your brain is washed good. Are you aware of all the lawyers, policemen, doctors, surgeons, computer techs, etc who smoke pot regularly? So very very ignornt
I smoke pot, good pot, everyday after WORK! The stuff ain't cheap, but neither is 18 year old Scotch (which I can easily afford). I love pot because it doesn't give me hangover or headache in the morning. Don't give me that nonsense about 'gateway' drugs. I've been smoking for 17 years and I have never been tempted by heroin or cigarettes. Legalize it, tax it, regulate it!
too bad THC is not a carcinogen. the only way it can cause physical harm in the body is because on rare occasion it is at times sprayed with chemicals to help it maintain preservation along long "underground" transport paths. marijuana in its natural form is entirely harmless.
ITS OK THOUGH. the government has several safe alternatives available for us:: percocet, vicodin, morphine and a whole slew of other drugs that are totally not addictive and completely not harmful.. wait no...
the ignorance in these postings is dumbfounding...
I would never be so absolute on the matter by saying that smoking marijuana has never been a contributing factor to any human's death ever, but I would say for sure that it is undoubtedly less harmful than alcohol–and can even be healthy and medicinal. It's the geopolitics (Mexican Drug War, unfounded illegal status in U.S., etc) and abuse (like any substance, ever) of marijuana that kills people.
Smoke is not natural to the human lungs, so whatever you smoke is slowly chipping away at your lungs (hence lungs collapsing from only smoking weed, as another commenter said–pneumothorax is real, and smoke is smoke, weed or not), just as any drink of alcohol will slowly chip at your liver, but marijuana is at least natural. Think about it: it's a PLANT. You just harvest it and smoke it, just like tobacco (pure tobacco, not pre-packaged, boxed cancer sticks). Alcohol, like cannibis, occurs in nature, but is a TOXIN that is not consumable in its natural form (i.e. rubbing alcohol), and has to be distilled for us to buy in liquor stores and drink.
Which sounds more harmful: plant, or toxin?
Also, to try to keep on topic of the article, I adored Amy Winehouse as any artist, and it's still surreal and sad to see her gone. 🙁
Amy Winehouse "Addicted" is relevant to this particular thread. If that had been her main addiction, I'm sure she'd still be alive.
SORRY, I misspoke, *alcohol does NOT occur in nature*, it's an organic compound that needs to be created. Further proves my part of alcohol being more dangerous, because of it being unnatural.
To Hiedi, Tcat, etc. Pot doesn't kill directly and there are virtually no recorded instances. That is fact. It does not make you stupid since I have a very high IQ; probably higher than yours. It does not make you a loser. The people I have smoked with in the past: A lawyer, OB/GYN doctor, OB nurses, three different Midwives, a successful publisher, an owner of a large commercial landscaping company, not to mention everyone else I have ever socialized with has a job. Your opinions are not fact and everyone has one and in the end a person's opinion is meaningless to anyone but themselves.
@ omnicient – you are completely incorrect about that. I smoke pot regularly. Without it, I can't gather my thoughts and focus on a task at hand. Pot makes me zero in like a laser, eliminate distractions, and accomplish the goal. I gain much more 'drive' and ambition when I smoke than when I do not. You are believing the propaganda from Reefer madness – about 50 years out of date.
Always the reefer defenders show up, I smoked pot for quite a few years, it nearly cost me everything. You can defend it until you are blue in the face but the fact is it's an escape from reality. You quit growing emotionally, you lose touch with world around you, and over time with regular use it fogs clarity of thought. There is a price to be paid for smoking pot, you don't have to take my word for it, you'll get to eventually prove it too yourself.
SO YOU'RE TELLING ME THAT I SHOULD TRY IT.
I feel bad for her and her family. Addiction is a terrible disease, but then alcholics, liike myself, but clean for over 30 years, realize it is a disease. II'd have three beers and off to the races. Smoiking is somethjing I am still working on, but too much booze and then driving can be an accidnt waiting to happen. I guess the key to drinking is no when to say that's enough. Most people are responsbile drinkers, LAst time I checked only 10 percent who drink can't handle it. So, that means hundreds of thousands out there.
Alcoholism is not a disease. It is a choice.
Comments like yours do nothing more than put on display the ignorance of those who have never suffered from an addiction. Alcoholism is no more a choice than breathing. Since you obviously don't know what you're talking about, why not you do some research. Check out the websites of the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers or the American Psychological Association. By the way, these learned professionals all completely disagree with your argument, and have, for a great number of years, acknowledged alcoholism and addiction as diseases just as they do diabetes, cancer or any number of other diseases. Come out of your cave and learn a bit, Cretin.
Wrong on both counts. Its not a disease nor a choice. To think its a choice is ignorant at best. Really. Wow
Teabagbilly was joking, morons <3
See how easy it is to manipulate some people? Do I mean the Commentor? Or the Responders?
Of course it's silly, but this is the same type of nonsense that liberals believe is legitimate when they blame Bush for everything.
The "look how bad alcohol is" defense of pot is old and tired. I am not anti-marijuana, but get some new material.
A good argument does not become bad just becasue it's repeated over and over.
@Bert –Just as a bad argument does not become good just because it's repeated over and over.
I can not drink straight. Even so , I have water with my drink.
You don't have to drink it straight to have those effect. She could have consumed 13 oz of alcohol mixed with Coke or any other beverage...that's around 11-13 shots.
Ya, I agree, drinking makes you do some pretty stupid things.
You guys are the idiots for falling for Teabagbilly's comments. Teabagbilly is obviously not Republican and most likely a true uneducated liberal hedonist disguising himself as a "Teabag" to simply stir up controversy in its most juvenile form and then enjoy people hating on Republicans, look at those of you who "took the hook" above. Wow, Really...?!? All true TeaBags would agree with the majority of educated individuals that unfortunately she "did this to herself over the years" due to addictions and this tragedy had NOTHING to do with America or politics. Nice try TeaBagBilly, some of your blinded uneducated liberals fell for your lame attempt to cast hate based on your crafted screen-name. Seriously...grow up, educate yourself without Hollywood or TV influencing your choices, move out of your parents house, and learn to provide for yourself! Wow, what a concept!
From your comment, I'd say you've smoked way to many buds.
i love pot, but legalizing it will do far more harm to generations to come, it'll kill their drive and ambition. it's great for those of us who have already achieved success but it will absolutely obliterate the drive, discipline and work ethic of children if we as a society condone getting high, but like i said, i love it, but that doesn't make it wise
"A person may need medical attention with a blood-alcohol level under 0.2." I need to rush to the hospital then
Alchoholism IS a disease...but it's the only disease you can get yelled at for having.
It is, by FAR, most definitely not the only disease you can get yelled at for having. I've known people to lash out at folks with Type II diabetes, lung cancer (you should have quit smoking!), and various eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. People are mean.
NO, IT ISN'T A DISEASE, BUT I'VE NEVER BEEN ADDICTED, SO I'M JUST TALKING OUT OF MY ASS.
I feel like anybody whose made it through college should never have this problem
With Lime and Salt!
Amy Winehouse is a huge talent. I hope she can get the help she needs to become sober.
Too late for that buddy!
Stop using drugs and read the news.
poster child for marijuana, aren't we?
Hey how about changing the Tea Party's name to the "Long Island Iced Tea Party?"
At least then their stupidity would be quaint and fun...
Ah ha. You have found the reason for their stupidity!
Whoever commented on my earlier post, no. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are two different compounds (granted, not by very much) and have different effects on the body. I would not compare drinking alcohol to drinking embalming fluid (formaldehyde).
To more closely compare, would be ethanol V.S. methanol. Ethanol will make you simply drunk, methanol will make you drunk and kill you, both are alcohol, methanol is denatured.
Methanol is not denatured. Denatured means adding another chemical. Methanol is a pure chemical. It's just very poisonous.
Too late omniscient, pretty sure we are suffering the complacency after effects of widespread Pot use in America already, otherwise we would still be faster and better than China.
Dont be a goof, Pot is a gateway drug, there's a reason why they call it dope...cops should come to ur house and thump u up for having it in ur care, id sit back and laugh..
I was always under the impression that Amy Winehouse died of a broken heart. Now I am sure of it.
I had a middle-aged cousin who was apparently feeling down because of a months-long recuperation from a multi-fractured leg, and one day he drank much of a bottle of whiskey. I'm sure he didn't mean to put his life at risk, but he wound up dying that day from alcohol poisoning and asphyxiation. He passed out on the couch and choked on his own vomit, blocking his air passages. What is sad is that his wife came home, saw him drunk on the couch, and just left him there. He apparently passed out and vomited while she was alone in their bedroom for awhile. When she came out, she found him blue and not breathing. Paramedics were called, but it was too late. Lesson: don't ever just ignore someone who is stone drunk or passed out; like my cousin, they may be alcohol-poisoned and need immediate help.
Excellent point Mike...
all those who think marijuana is okay should read up on the Opium War of China in the 1800s. They seem okay until a large amount of people are addicted to them.
t.h.c. is not an opiate and not addictive
Yes, because marijuana and opium are exactly alike. Moron.
People who say water should be legal should read up on the effects of drinking cyanide.
Cyanide kills people, ban water now!
Ieat is EXACTLY the type of ignorant scared person tht was in the white house when these laws were passed. And look how many on this board actually still believe in this voodoo bs about pot being a "killer that robs your soul"
People also die from water intoxication.
It's possible "em" may be overindulging, but some of the rest of you could use a doobie.
@omniscient: Not all cannabis users smoke it every hour of every day. Some smoke only in social gatherings, others just a couple of puffs in the evenings. Still others use it as directed by a physician. Moderate usage does not destroy drive and ambition. I know folks with six-figure incomes who've been cannabis users for decades.
"All things in moderation, including moderation." - Oscar Wilde
> it will absolutely obliterate the drive, discipline and work ethic of children
Have you seen the current generation?
One gal died by not urinating to try to win a Wii.