Just about every person who develops an addiction to alcohol thinks they can control their drinking. For many, the problem goes beyond just negatively impacting their physical and mental health once they can no longer stop consuming alcohol. They risk drinking so much that it could actually kill them. What is a lethal blood alcohol level? There isn’t just one number that applies to everyone, but a definite range exists that makes having permanent damage or even dying a real risk.
What is a Blood Alcohol Content Level?
Blood alcohol content, also known as BAC, is the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood. When someone consumes beer, wine, or hard liquor, they are ingesting an intoxicating ingredient called alcohol which is either ethyl alcohol or ethanol. When a person begins drinking, their stomachs and small intestines quickly absorb the alcohol, which causes it to enter their bloodstream. The liver interprets alcohol as a toxin, so it works to metabolize the alcohol in order to filter it out of the blood.
When someone drinks faster than their liver can process the alcohol, their BAC number goes up. This increases the feeling of being intoxicated. Generally speaking, the liver can adequately process one alcoholic drink per hour. This time frame may vary slightly, depending on the percentage of alcohol in each drink.
How Many Drinks Are Considered Too Many?
Many people underestimate how “one drink” is defined and assume they aren’t consuming as much alcohol as they think. The definition of what constitutes a single drink is as follows:
- 12 ounces of beer, which contains about 5% alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which contains about 12% alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (hard liquor), which contains about 40 alcohol
Other factors that influence BAC and what a lethal blood alcohol level is for each person include:
- How fast they drink
- Tolerance for alcohol
- How much they have eaten recently
- If other substances have been consumed, including prescription and illegal drugs
What is the Lethal Blood Alcohol Level?
When a person is pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated/driving under the influence, a law enforcement officer will attempt to administer a test for BAC. Every state except Utah and the District of Columbia considers a BAC of 0.08 and more to be too impaired to drive. Utah sets the limit at 0.05.
While no exact number for what is a lethal blood alcohol level applies to every person, data shows that when BAC reaches 0.40 or higher, the individual has reached a dangerous and potentially lethal level of intoxication. The person is likely to have experienced alcohol poisoning and is at risk of organ damage, losing consciousness, slipping into a coma, or dying.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?
Someone who has ingested a potentially lethal amount of alcohol will exhibit several symptoms. Anyone who suspects someone has alcohol poisoning should summon immediate emergency medical help. They should stay with the person and make sure they stay in a sitting position. If the individual has lost consciousness, roll them on their side in order to help prevent them from choking, should they vomit.
Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Difficulty thinking or talking
- Difficulty walking
- Slurred speech
- Clammy or pale skin
- Slow heart rate
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Repetitive or uncontrollable eye movements
- Losing consciousness
Can Outpatient Treatment Help People With Alcohol Addiction?
Buckhead Behavioral Health provides highly effective outpatient treatment for people struggling to overcome alcoholism. We offer a detox program that is the vital first step in learning to become sober. We give medical and psychological support that helps relieve many of the withdrawal symptoms that occur during detox.
We also offer different levels of outpatient care that help continue the types of treatment begun in detox. We assess each person who comes to us for help in order to fully understand the specifics of their addiction. As a result, we create a schedule of therapy sessions that teach people to understand the roots of their compulsion to drink.
Our compassionate, experienced staff of doctors, nurses, and therapists assist in teaching each individual how to develop healthy coping skills. This prepares them to enjoy life without alcohol and avoid triggers to relapse. Throughout all levels of treatment, prescription medications can be used to help minimize withdrawal symptoms.
Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, GA
If you find yourself wondering, “What is a lethal blood alcohol level?”, you or someone you love may be unable to stop abusing alcohol. Buckhead Behavioral Health provides a detox program and several types of outpatient programs that help people become sober. We offer a variety of types of therapies that help people overcome alcoholism. Not only can you learn to stop drinking, but you can begin living a new life that excites you. Our medical and therapeutic treatment providers help you cross the bridge to becoming healthy again.
Are you ready to talk to someone about getting help for your alcohol addiction? Visit our admissions page and see how easy we make it to get started on living a sober life.