Health, Popular — March 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Blacking Out: Simplified


Many have been in the awkward position of waking up in a strange space desperately attempting to piece together the prior night’s debauchery.

But how does one become so inebriated that they can’t remember what they did last night?

Enter BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration). BAC is the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. A person’s BAC level is expressed in percentages (i.e. a BAC of .10 percent indicates that a person has 1 part alcohol per 1,000 parts blood in the body).

At .08 percent, most people, including heavy drinkers, experience some degree of impairment affecting eye movement, judgment, coordination, concentration, and speed control. For those aforementioned reasons most states make a .08 BAC the legal cut off for driving.

So what factors determine my BAC?

1)The number of drinks: The more one drinks, the higher their BAC.

2)The pace you drink: Intense high-paced drinking will reach a higher BAC than when drinks are consumed over a longer period of time.

3)Your sex: Females tend to have a higher percentage of body fat per pound and thus a lower percentage of body water than males. More alcohol remains in the blood stream of females, enabling females to achieve a higher BAC (when all other factors are equal).

4)Your weight: The heavier a person is the more water they have in their body. The water will dilute the alcohol and decrease BAC.

5)The amount of food in your stomach: Alcohol absorption rate will be slightly slower if a person has eaten.


Common Questions

Does the type of alcohol affect my BAC?

NO! A standard drink contains approximately half an ounce of alcohol (.54 ounces).

Can one decrease their BAC?

Only time can decrease your BAC. Coffee, ice cold showers, and aimlessly running will not sober you up

Does eating food lower BAC?

NO! Eating doesn’t lower your BAC. But eating shortly before or while drinking will delay the speed in which the alcohol enters the blood stream, consequently delaying your peak BAC.

At what BAC level do “black-outs” occur?

Blackouts occur when a person’s BAC becomes dangerously high. At approximately .15 BAC (depending on the individual) most people will experience alcohol induced memory loss, better known as a “blackout.”


BAC Effects/ Experiences 

(Experiences can vary)

.02 -Exhibit normal behavior 


.04 -“Buzzed”; mild euphoria, social, talkative, increased self- confidence
.06 -Emotional instability; judgment and perception becomes fairly impaired

(Legal intoxication level in most states)

-Definite impairment of muscle coordination and driving skills
.10 -Drunk; Decreased muscular coordination, deterioration of reaction time
.12 -“Sloppy,” vomiting can occur, increased pain threshold, disoriented, lethargic
.15 -Balance and movement are impaired. At this BAC level the equivalent of half a pint of whiskey is circulating in the blood stream.
.15-.25 -Most people experience blackouts
.30 -Loss of consciousness
.40 -Complete unconsciousness and potentially fatal
.45+ -Breathing stop. A fatal dose for most.


By: Aaron Fishkin

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