Will four beers get you drunk?

By David Joel Miller

Are lite beers less intoxicating?


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Yes, four beers can get you “drunk.” And it does not matter if they are life beers or not. The brand and the nature of the drink do not matter either. Let’s look at why.

All the alcohol we drink is Ethanol from grains or berries. If you are drinking another type of alcohol, say wood alcohol you will probably be too blind to read this by now. You will also be dead very soon. If it is not Ethanol do not drink it.

P.S. do not try to use other alcohols as a suicide method. You may just end up blind and needing someone else to change your diaper instead of dead. If you are thinking suicide, please call someone and get help, things can get better. Now back to the “4 beers getting you drunk” story.

There is a thing called a “standard drink.” There is some variation in the alcohol content of beverages so let’s keep this very generic.

A small beer (about 16 oz.) A small glass of wine (4-5 oz.) and a shot of “hard Liquor” (about 1 to 1 ½ oz. of 86 proof liquor) all contain the same amount of alcohol.

If you are drinking 40 oz. beers or 32 oz. tumblers of wine this is way more than one standard drink. Also, 151 or 191 proof liquor contain a whole lot more alcohol than that an 86 proof beverage.

Lite beers have fewer calories but the same amount of alcohol. So drinking light beers will leave you begin a slim, trim drunk.

There are a bunch of factors that will determine how much alcohol gets into your bloodstream and how quickly this happens but all those factors pale in comparison to the how much you are drinking factor.

More alcohol in the mouth – more drunk in your body.

We also need to consider what did this questioner mean by drunk? Here in California legally under the influence occurs at .08 (point zero eight.) This means that at or above that point you should not drive. You can be severely impaired well below that point.

At as low as .04 (point zero four) you can have problems. At this level, you can begin to make poor decisions and do some dangerous things, like turning right from the left lane or running a red light.

People who have this lower level of alcohol in their blood stream still get tickets, sometimes they get arrested for doing reckless things. Hence the name “wet reckless.”

So how many standard drinks gets you to impaired?

Each “standard drink” contributes .02 (point zero two) to your blood alcohol level. Unfortunately, for many people, the beverage they are drinking or the glass they are using provides more than a standard drink.

Alcohol is neutralized largely in your liver after it enters your blood stream. So there are timing delays from once you drink the alcohol and when it reaches your blood stream and then the liver.

When it comes to alcohol your liver only has one speed. It can neutralize roughly one drink per hour. If you have any damage to your liver, an infection, drug use or even old age, the liver slows down, neutralizes less alcohol and it stays in your blood stream longer.

The risk of impaired driving even after only one or two drinks has caused some places to lower the legal limit of drinking and driving to one or even no alcohol before you drive.

There are other factors that affect how high your blood alcohol content goes and how fast. Gender, weight, age are all factors worth thinking about.

When people ask how many drinks will get you drunk they are usually asking how many can I get away with and still drive. The short answer is zero. Once there is alcohol in your blood stream you are at an increased risk. Any marijuana increases your risk also, and the two together is a case of 2 + 2 equals 6.

So anything past one drink could be a problem. If after one you can’t stop, that is alcoholism or an Alcohol Use Disorder and needs treatment. Drinking and driving, no matter how few drinks, is taking a risk you do not need to take. Go with or be that designated driver.

As for the risk of doing other drunken things, you should avoid machinery, drugs or prescribed medications, standing up, email or phone use, family, friends, and members of the opposite sex. Avoid all those things and you should be fine.

Did that answer help?

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


One thought on “Will four beers get you drunk?

  1. Evening David, 🙂
    In Australia the legal driving limit changes from .08 to .05 That can mean sometimes only 1 or 2 drinks…depending on all the factors you mentioned. 🙂
    I can drink 4 glasses of Bourbon to 1 glass of wine. Not sure if its all the preservatives or what, but it always gives me heartburn too. 🙂
    My downfall in life is being a Binge drinker. 🙂 Drink nothing and then drink till I’m nearly asleep. Better than I was a few years ago, but alcohol is a tricky one to give up. Hope all is well in your world? Hugs from Oz. Paula xxx


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