Some people seem capable of drinking large volumes of alcohol without showing signs of being drunk, whilst others start acting tipsy after a single gulp. Both of these could be seen as beneficial or frustrating: Rachel might enjoy the extra control yet be jealous that her friends loosen up quicker than she does, whilst Mikey may be embarrassed that he can’t hold his drink as well as his mates, yet appreciate it being a cheap night for him. Swings and roundabouts, you could say.
The reason why some get drunk faster than others is actually down to multiple factors, some of which are pretty surprising and well worth bearing in mind.
Apologies to all of the ladies out there, but women generally feel the effects of alcohol in a shorter time frame than men. Whilst there are obviously many exceptions to the rule, this is because women are usually smaller than men yet have a higher percentage of body fat.
Alcohol can’t be absorbed very much at all by fatty tissue, so instead it makes its way to the woman’s bloodstream; meanwhile, the alcohol in a man’s system has a higher chance of being diluted, slightly reducing its influence on the brain (at least for a while).
The older you get, the harder it is for your body to cope with a lot of booze. Again, this is due to physical factors, including older people having less water in their bodies than their younger chums, resulting in a reduced rate of dilution. On top of this, the body’s cells become more vulnerable with age, so the alcohol accesses the organs and brain sooner and with more of a wallop.
Put simply, the larger you are, the more resources there are in your body to combat the alcohol. However, it’s not the fat or muscle that does this, but rather the higher volumes of blood and water that help to thin out the intoxicating chemicals. Bigger people also have bigger livers to match, which detoxify faster and more effectively than those of their smaller drinking mates.
It’s even true that certain ethnicities can be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, as some East Asian people have more of the enzyme that causes nasty acetaldehyde to accumulate. This leads to the symptoms that we all connect with drunkenness and hangovers, namely reddened cheeks, a faster heartbeat, headaches and nausea.
The usual suspects
Then we have the factors that everyone knows about. There’s the percentage of alcohol in the beverage, the amount of food (or lack thereof) in your stomach whilst drinking, your level of hydration, how rested you are, and of course, the amount of alcohol and how swiftly you ingest it.
Tips for staying in control
Enjoying alcohol in moderation is one of life’s simple pleasures, but it’s essential that you know your limits and maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to remain fit and healthy. It’s up to you how often you drink and how many you have in a single session, although it’s definitely worth considering whether you can cut both of these down just a little, as any reduction will make a big difference.
Combine this with regular hydration (a glass of water between every one or two glasses of wine works wonders), a consistent sleep pattern, a nutritious diet, regular exercise and plenty of fresh air, and you’ll probably find that you handle your alcohol better and don’t suffer too much the next day.
Enjoy your wine