1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Alcohol threshold

    Discussion in 'Research' started by lostinwebspace, Apr 13, 2011.

    Just a simple question here. I'm not a drinker, so I have no idea, but what's a decent amount for a person to have before being plastered? I need to have a character get drunk--really, really drunk--but somehow still manage to get into a car. This character's tolerance is at the level of an alcoholic's.

    I'm thinking in terms of whiskey and bourbon.
     
  2. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    A few more details may be required, here... How often does the character drink? Are they male or female? How old are they, and how much do they weigh? All these things impact ones threshold for alcohol. Also, do you want them to be driving the car, or just stumbling into the backseat? It takes a different amount of lucidity for either.

    Also, remember, it takes about 6 minutes for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Not sure if thats pertinent, or if you knew it, but considering you're a non-drinker, I thought it might be helpful to know...
     
  3. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    I couldn't tell you exactly, but you could have him repeatedly pouring shots, taking swigs from the bottle, stuff like that. If you need a specific number, it would vary quite a bit, depending on his build, tolerance, age, stuff like that.
     
  4. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    It depends on metabolism.

    I began my night with two ounces of rum in a coffee mug of hot coco.

    My teacup holds about 6oz, so about 2oz of rum per 4oz of tea.

    Be generous and consider that my teapot holds about 28 oz and I'm drinking a cup of sugar-water laced with 2oz of rum after the teapot ran out, and beginning with a cup of laced cocoa.

    I'm drunk enough that the four ants in my rum-laced sugar-water will only bother me when I get to the part where they have settled. However, I'm still able to type.

    I think that certain parts of the brain are quicker to shut off, and that is also individual. I learned to type while drunk because I was shamed about my drunken state being an analogy to monkeys on typewriters a decade ago.
     
  5. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    Okay, back to the question, it's still a matter of tolerance. The description is typical for me. However, I've been less than the ant-tempting level. At about half-teapot, I drove about three miles and sobered up while shopping for supplies. (Groceries.)
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The legal limit in the United States is 0.08% blood alcohol by volume. For a person of average height and weight, that;s about 2 -3 shots of hard liquor or twelve ounce beers in a sitting. At that level, the person is legally too impaired to safely drive a motor vehicle, but may still appear reasonably normal.

    At two to three times that level, most people will be stumbling, slurring their speech, losing all self control. Fatal alcohol poisoning can occur with as low as 0.3% blood alcohol.

    You can find a lot of this information with google searches.
     
  7. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Depends too much on too many factors. We'd honestly need an entire medical history of your character, to start. For instance, these days, after having struggles with some health issues, one shot and I'm buzzed, two and I'm stumbling, three and I'm ill with drunkenness. But, when I was 21 and healthy, I'd down 10 shots of Yager in a night no problem and still be reasonably coherent (for instance, never so drunk I ignorantly thought I was alright to drive, but would rarely even get stumbling). So, it all depends.

    Perhaps instead of focusing on the actual number or quantity of alcohol, concentrate on its effects on the character, as that's more important anyhow.
     
  8. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    It's going to be hard to write an authentic drunken scene if you've never experienced it, in my opinion. You don't really want to resort to using other writers' cliches to describe things.
     
  9. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I really wish I owed a breathalyser, just to bash the system. Granted, yes, I rolled the dice and didn't botch with driving, especially with the low-limits in my state. However, just testing my level of antagonism vs drunkeness would probably meet with a different result.....

    My cat just dragged a particularly meaty bit of chicken carcass into my studio... I would have less issue with them not keeping it in the kitchen if I had something other than carpet in here. Since I'm drunk, I'm not smacking the snot out of the kitty for doing wrong.
     
  10. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Whoa. Thanks for the quick responses everyone. So many! Here goes. A little more information I should have had the forethought to mention before.

    He's a seven-year alcoholic. He drinks every night he can sneak off, and drinks fairly heavily.

    Male.

    Mid-thirties. About 180 pounds. No bad medical history except for maybe an alcohol-drenched liver.

    Driving, but very badly. He's at the point where he slurs his speech and is angry.

    He's an ex-military guy, so he has a good cardiovascular endurance. He's of decent healthy. No Captain America, but he doesn't have any other vices and the military has kept him fit.

    This isn't a scene. I'm mentioning something from his past. By this logic, though, I'd never write anything outside of my experience. That's incredibly limiting.

    I know there may be a lot of factors involved in this, but any information is better than my guessing. Also, this isn't beer. It's whiskey and bourbon.
     
  11. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    My husband is only 24, but he's roughly that weight, and he's nowhere near an alcoholic, but he'd have to drink quite a bit to get to that level. I can't really give you an exact number, though....

    Honestly, you could pretty much throw any number out there, and I don't think people would question it. My sister and I are very, very similar in height, weight and such, but she could out-drink me any day of the week. Everybody handles their alcohol differently.
     
  12. East
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    East Member

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    Just a though, use YouTube and search "drunk". You'll find lots of behaviour examples to draw from.

    There is no magic amount of booze that will make all people drunk equally. Just pick a number of shots then explain how heavy a drinker your character is. Average Joe Shlub who has been drinking since high school will be able to manage a car with 4 or 5 shots.
     
  13. prisonchild
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    prisonchild Member

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    i dont know how you're planning to recall the story (if its from the first person there might not be much to report!) but i think 13-15 ounces of whiskey would be an accurate assumption, based on experience
     
  14. Smoke
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    Smoke Contributing Member

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    I'm over 200, don't have the body-type to get below 170. (I think I was severely and chronically dehydrated when I was that light.) I have gotten away with driving after 8oz of rum, though only because I'm a conservative driver. (Driving habits built on expecting the brakes to fail mean I actually obey following distance and be conservative, probably allows for slower reactions.)

    As far as alchohol tolerance, sometimes I cannot function at all without a "little something" that would probably make a lighter woman stumble.
     
  15. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Really, it differs for every person. Some may not be able to stand after one beer while others could hold multiple bottles down. It just depends.

    I used to have a co-worker who'd get so drunk she couldn't stand. But somehow or other she was still able to get into her car and drive the lousy two mile drive home. Which was a good thing in her case. ;)
     
  16. Shadow Reeves
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    Shadow Reeves Active Member

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    ok well after scanning through no one seemed to give you some decent numbers, so here are mine.
    my brother was an alcoholic for a little while and could drink a full case of beer (24 bottles - 1.4 standard drinks each) and still stand up. although i doubt he could drive a car.

    im 19 m and about 80Kg and 6ft1"
    i drink reasonably often but not in excess
    BUT
    i can drink a full bottle of burbon (22 standard drinks) and be incredibly horribly drunk but still retain my motor skills, like catch a ball or swim in a pool.

    i think if you described his consumption by volume such as 3 bottles of wine, (which is about 24 standards) or 2 bottles of port it is more descriptive and less about the numbers.

    i worked in a pub where people would have 10-12 drinks and then drive home - and they had been doing that for years.

    EDIT: just thought id mention that when my friends and i started drinking i would only need 4-6 drinks and i would be happily drunk.
    a smaller statured friend of mine had 3 glasses of wine at 18 and was throwing up and crying. (good times)
    women who can have more than 6 and not show its effects are a rarity.
     
  17. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    I would say one bottle (of Whisky) is about the dose you are looking for. A practiced drinker will be able to drink one bottle and then still be able to drive (sort of, not safely of course).

    I also know a guy who can drink a whole case of beer and still stand. Impossible to wake him up the next morning, though.
     
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  18. Finhorn
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    Finhorn Senior Member

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    Alcohol is chemical that your body tries to get rid of. With normal liver function it does so to the tune of about one "drink" per hour. A drink is one shot, 12oz of most beers, or 4 oz of most wines. Anything above the 1 drink an hour adds to drunkenness.

    Experienced alcoholics don't lessen this effect or absorb alcohol faster. If anything, liver damage makes them drunk faster. They are however better at negotiating while drunk. Someone who's learned to drive while intoxicated will have slower reflexes but appear normal in every other way. So for your character I think Porcupine's bottle would be enough to push him past where he was comfortable and into a loss of control.

    Some alcoholics report that it takes more to get them buzzed as the years pass. Often (but not always) this can be linked to weight gain. The 150 pound 21 year old is likely to be intoxicated at 3 drinks. Seven years and 50 pounds later it's going to take him 4 and a half to reach the same blood alcohol content.

    I refer you to http://www.campingsurvival.com/charofweigvs.html for a simplified chart

    or

    http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/HealthIssues/1100827422.html for some genuine learning. Also see wikipidea for common effects at different blood alcohol levels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_alcohol_content
     
  19. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    With an alcoholic usually it will take more for other people to notice when they are drunk. You don't need to necessarily be addicted to alcohol for that. Both my parents have what is termed 'addictive personality' my Mum chose alcohol, my Dad chose sex. Over the years both of them got better at not getting caught.

    I know I have inherited it because of my high tolerance to anesthetic (the family history of addictiveness goes hand in hand with high tolerance to anesthetic, painkillers and other drugs - I have to have special considerations if I have an operation - dentistry has to either under a general anesthetic or none at all as local anesthetic barely works). I can drink a whole bottle of wine and even after twenty years of virtually no alcohol was able to carry on an intelligent conversation and walk home in a straight line. My husband didn't notice I had been drinking. When it does affect me more is when I have flu or a cold. I am not addicted to alcohol but when I do drink I tend to drink as an alcoholic would (the whole bottle).

    I chose writing instead !!! Everyone is different with how the effects of alcohol affect them. When my Mum does appear horribly drunk is when she is actually sober but is craving a drink - she almost sobers up when she has one. She no longer drinks constantly and actually 'appears' drunk more often than she did before.
     
  20. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    If writing from the drunk person perspective, I agree. But you can write what you see if you have been around drunks alot.(binge drinked or long term alcohollic.)

    Alcoholics can hide their drunken stupor better then people that get drunk once in a while.

    If he is fit or overweight, he can drink more with less affect. Less weight or shorter means there is less area for the liquor to spread, so it will affect them more.

    1shot of whiskey= 1 glass of wine = 1 mug of beer.
     

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