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The Four Things You Need to Know About BAC

The Four Things You Need to Know About BAC

As a parent, you might have heard of BAC on the news early one morning as you got ready for work or on a late-night television show. You might have also heard about it in rumors on the ways you could lower your BAC quickly if you needed to.

Oftentimes, BAC is what we hear individuals mention when describing what would happen to an individual who’d been driving after drinking. No matter what amount of alcohol you have consumed, it’s never acceptable to drive after drinking. Doing so puts yourself and others around you in danger when driving with an even slightly elevated BAC. Additionally, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your teen knows that drinking under the age of 21 is never acceptable, and can have major consequences.

While many parents have probably heard about BAC in one of these ways, few fully know the truth behind what BAC is, the real factors that influence it and the body, or the truth behind the way you can lower your BAC.

To help you get started, we compiled the four truths about  BAC that everyone should know:

  1. BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration.

According to Stanford University, BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration and is the percent of alcohol that is present in a person’s bloodstream. This means that in the bloodstream, for every 1 part of alcohol present there are 1,000 parts of blood present.

The primary factor that raises the BAC of an individual is the number of drinks that they’ve recently had. BAC can be measured by breath, blood or urine tests.

  1. A lot of factors can influence your BAC.

Just because two people have the same amount of alcohol does not mean that they’ll have the same BAC. It’s a little different for everyone.

One of the first things that impact your BAC is the number of drinks a person has consumed. The more drinks someone has had, the more likely they are to have an increase in their blood alcohol concentration.

Another factor that can greatly influence BAC is body weight. Information from Barnard College shows that the less body mass someone has, the greater impact alcohol will have on them than a heavier individual. Other factors that can impact your BAC include your gender, medications and, in some cases, the amount of food that you’ve eaten that day.

While these factors can impact your blood alcohol concentration, the more you drink and the higher your BAC gets, the more it will impact you.

For instance, according to Stanford University, when your BAC reaches .07-.09 you begin to lose control over things like your balance and vision. When your BAC reaches .16-.20 is when you begin to feel nauseous and at .35-.40 your most likely going to black-out or slip into a coma.

These health concerns are important to remember because everyone is different.

Each person is affected differently by drinking. Just because one drink doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean that it won’t impact someone else more.

  1. Time is the only way to lower BAC.

Many people may believe that there are quick ways to lower your BAC. You might have heard that by  eating a meal, drinking coffee or taking a nap, you can easily speed up the process of lowering your BAC, but these are all myths. The reality is that time is the only thing that can lower BAC.

According to the National Health Services, it can take an average of one hour for the body of an adult to break down one unit of alcohol. One unit of alcohol is typically 10 ml or 8 g of pure alcohol. So, it can take a very extensive amount of time for your body to lower the level of alcohol in your blood.

  1. The legal limit for anyone under the age of 21 is a BAC of 0.

In Missouri, it’s illegal for anyone over the age of 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, but a BAC of 0 is the legal limit for anyone under the age of 21.

Drinking underage is not only against the law, but it’s also extremely dangerous. The brain isn’t finished developing until the age of 25, so the brain of someone drinking underage will react differently to the alcohol than the mind and body of an adult.

Additionally, research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that the earlier a teen drinks, the more likely they are to become addicted to alcohol later in life. For these reasons, every parent should talk with their teen about their expectations on underage drinking, and ensure they know it is never acceptable for them to drink while underage.

As an adult, it’s important to know the facts about what BAC is. By knowing the impact alcohol can have on the body, we can make choices that set good examples to the teens around us. By displaying good and cautious practices of drinking to our teens, they can model those behaviors later in life when they are over the age of 21.

Kaitlyn Inman
kaitlyn@missourisafeandsober.com
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