What is Intoxication?

Intoxication occurs long before someone passes out.

Each person responds differently to the effects of alcohol based on mood, setting, physical health, and tolerance.

  • Intoxication is the point at which alcohol depresses the central nervous system so that mood and physical and mental abilities are noticeably changed.
  • The legal definition of intoxication is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08.

Tolerance is completely unrelated to a person’s BAC. BAC is the amount of alcohol in one’s system based on weight, number of drinks, and the period of time during which alcohol is consumed. Tolerance, on the other hand, refers to the experience of lesser effects of alcohol at the same BAC and can be highly dangerous.  

It is suggested that a person not exceed a BAC of .056, as this is the point where the positive, relaxed, euphoric effects of alcohol are experienced. When a BAC of .056 is exceeded, the negative, depressant effects of alcohol take place.

A BAC of .06 - .10 is considered the point of diminishing returns. Typically a person at this BAC will experience the following:

  • Impaired judgment, inappropriate behavior (such as drinking competitively or annoying others)
  • Impaired coordination (stumbling, swaying, staggering, or loss of fine motor skills, distance acuity, or glare recovery)
  • Slurred speech
  • Diminished senses (speaks louder, cannot hear as well as normal, vision is not as clear, glassy, unfocused eyes)
  • Slowed mental processing (can only do one task at a time, forgetting things, lighting more than one cigarette at a time, or losing their train of thought, cannot listen well, follow conversations well, or understand what others are saying)
  • Intensified emotions (overly friendly, laughing intensely, displaying mood swings)
  • Lowered inhibitions

Some people may become significantly more affected at lower BACs, whereas others at similar BACs may not appear to show symptoms due to developed tolerance. 

Remember, there are no absolutes.