Differences Between Men and Women

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Women are much more vulnerable than men to adverse consequences of alcohol use.

Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently than men; in general women have less body water than men of similar body weight, so that women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.

Women have smaller quantities of the enzyme dehydrogenase that breaks down alcohol in the stomach. A Woman will absorb about 30% more alcohol into her bloodstream than a man of the same weight who has consumed an equal amount.

For example:
140 lb. Male drinks two drinks in one hour, his blood alcohol level is .038. A 140 lb. female drinks two drinks in one hour and her blood alcohol level is .048.

Bud = 185 lbs. Ethel = 130 lbs.
2 drinks/ 1 hr. = .025 2 drinks/ 1 hr. 053
3 drinks/ 1 hr. = .045 3 drinks/ 1 hr. 088
5 drinks/ 1 hr. =.085 4 drinks/ 2 hrs. = .106

To calculate your BAC for your weight go to: BAC Calculator

*An additional factor is hormone differences. Research suggests that the menstrual cycle and the use of any medication that affects the liver (because of the change in hormones) may intensify a woman’s response to alcohol. Women have been shown to develop their highest blood alcohol concentrations immediately before menstruating, and their lowest on the first day of menstruation.

Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration

BAC Behavior Impairment
.01-.03 Average person appears normal Subtle effects,Relaxation
.03-.059 Mild euphoria, changes in social behavior such as loss of shyness (increased gregariousness, humor enhancement), depressant effects are not apparent, relaxation, decreased inhibition minor impairment of judgment and memory, lowering of caution, coordination, concentration
.06-.08 More likely to take risks, lowered inhibitions, erratic behavior driving abilities clearly impaired; fine motor control discoordination, slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing, information processing altered, mood tends to shift from positive to negative
.08-.100 Legally intoxicated in all states; reaction time slowed, color perception and visual acuity decreased, memory impairment. Driving at this BAC increases risk of a fatal crash by 10 times.
.11- .20 Over-Expression, Emotional Swings, Angry or Sad, Boisterous, Between a .13-.16 may feel unwell, possible vomiting, Risk of fatal crash increases 25 times Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, peripheral vision, reaction time, and hearing will be impaired
.200-.300 Stupor, Lose Understanding, Impaired Sensations Major memory impairment – “blackout” normally occurs in this range (complete memory loss), especially if the BAC rises rapidly; memory does not transfer from short-term to long-term storage (can occur as low as .08%), Mental confusion May need assistance in walking, Loss of Consciousness can occur, Memory blackout, vomiting, May fall asleep, or lose bladder control
.300-.399 Alcohol poisoning, Loss of consciousness, Risk of death! Need medical attention Bladder Function, Breathing, Heart rate, Body temperature
400%-+ Onset of coma, possible death due to respiratory arrest Breathing, Heart rate, All body functions are sedated

Contrary to popular belief that tolerance is a sign a person can drink safely, it means the person simply does not feel or show the damage is being done. BAC remains the same, tolerance does not lower ones BAC. Tolerance can lead one to a false sense of being able to drink to impunity. The only factor that lowers one’s BAC is TIME.