There are many stages of being drunk, and if you understand them, it can be easier to control your alcohol intake.
Despite the risk of next-day and long-term consequences, 1 in 3 adults drink heavily, which is a 10% increase since 2004.
If you want to learn about all the stages involved in going from sober to drunk, keep reading to find out!
Stages of Being Drunk
Believe it or not, there are many stages involved in the process of drinking and getting drunk.
It’s entirely possible to drink and have fun safely, but it can quickly escalate to dangerous. As long as you don’t make it to the last couple of stages, you’ll also experience the hangover stage.
Every stage has a blood alcohol level (BAC) range that coincides with the effects of intoxication at that level. It all starts with sobriety, at a range of 0.01 to 0.05 percent.
But before we start, it’s important to emphasize that everyone is different and will take a different amount of time to reach each stage of being drunk. The number of drinks we use in each stage below are approximates / arbitrary and should not be used as an exact guide.
It All Begins with Sobriety
Upon the first sip of alcohol, people don’t show any symptoms of intoxication. If a person has 1 drink per hour, they’ll still be categorized in the “sobriety” stage. Unless a man or woman is under 100 pounds, their judgment and reaction time are vaguely, if at all, impaired during this phase.
Of course, it still depends on a person’s tolerance and whether or not they’ve had alcohol before.
During the sobriety stage, an individual’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) stays somewhere between 0.01 and 0.05 percent.
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Next Comes Euphoria
The second stage of drinking and intoxication is commonly referred to as euphoria. For a man, euphoria might mean 2 to 5 drinks, and for a woman, it’s typically more like 1 to 4 drinks.
In the euphoria stage, most people will feel more confident, more talkative and animated, and thus, euphoric.
At this stage, inhibitions start to decline, and people cross over the legal limit for operating a vehicle. A lot of people call refer to this stage as “tipsy.”
As an individual comes closer to the later parts of the euphoria stage, they’ll experience impaired memory, judgment, and coordination. Plus, motor responses could be much more delayed than that of a sober stage.
At this stage, alertness is also decreased, and people have more trouble processing information. They are much more likely to get into a car accident than a driver with a BAC of zero.
During the euphoria stage, a person’s BAC level ranges from 0.03 to 0.12 percent.
How fast you reach each stage depends greatly on your height, weight, age, gender and metabolism and, thereofre, is significantly different from person to person.
The Excitement Stage Ensues
During the excitement stage, a woman might have consumed 2 to 4 drinks in an hour. A man is more likely to have consumed 3 to 5 beverages, also within an hour.
At this stage, drinkers might start to feel these things:
Tired or drowsy
Loss of balance
Lack of coordination
Trouble making judgment calls
Difficulty remembering things
Easily excited or saddened
Nausea and vomiting
At this stage, it’s safe to say you’re drunk. You’re BAC is probably somewhere between 0.09 and 0.25 percent.
If You Keep Going, You’ll Reach Confusion
Drinking roughly more than 5 drinks in an hour for a man and more than 4 drinks within an hour for a woman, will inevitably lead to the infamous confusion stage of intoxication.
During this stage, the fun is now behind you. You might begin to have emotional outbursts and lash out in anger or sadness. You might pick a fight or find yourself overwhelmed with sad emotions. Or you might make an uncoordinated fool of yourself on the dance floor, creating entertainment for any sober people around you.
During the confusion stage, it’s often difficult to walk or even stand. Plus, you might be confused about what’s going on around you, or where you are.
This is when “blackouts” begin to happen. If you blackout, you won’t lose consciousness, but you might fade in and out, and you’ll probably forget most of what happens the next day.
You’re also at risk of injury during the confusion stage, as you won’t be able to feel pain to the same degree, if at all.
During the confusion stage, your BAC is probably somewhere between 0.18 and 0.30 percent.
After Confusion Comes Stupor
Let’s hope that if you’ve reached the stupor level, you’ve got someone by your side, making sure you get home safely.
This stage and above is called alcohol poisoning and is at the level where it can have serious implications for your health.
You won’t respond to what’s happening around you. You won’t be able to stand or walk, and you’ll likely pass out or lose control of bodily functions. This is when people start to wet themselves.
Your gag reflex won’t work correctly which is dangerous if vomiting. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people and a long list of celebrities who died choking on their vomit.
If you leave someone to “sleep it off” in this stage, they could end up suffering from slow breathing or respiratory arrest.
Hypothermia, seizures, and arrhythmia are other potential serious risks.
In the stupor stage, a person’s BAC is somewhere between 0.25 and 0.4 percent.
Next Comes the Coma
After the stupor stage comes the inevitable coma stage.
With this much alcohol in the system, circulation and respiratory functions are depressed significantly. Also, reflexes and motor responses are grossly decreased, and body temperature drops.
Any person who reaches the coma stage of drinking alcohol is at risk of death and should be given medical attention IMMEDIATELY.
During the coma stage, an individual might have a BAC between 0.35 and 0.45 percent.
The Death Stage
With a BAC of 0.45 or more, death via alcohol intoxication is likely.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), there are approximately 88,000 deaths per year due to alcohol intoxication.
The Hangover Stage
Just like any good story, there are many ways in which different decisions could grant different outcomes, especially during a night out of drinking.
Even though there are thousands of deaths per year from drinking, most of us remain somewhere between the euphoria and confusion stage when we go out for a night of fun and too much alcohol.
And even a few drinks in the excitement stage could warrant a hangover, especially as we get older.
The hangover stage often makes one feel terrible, and it certainly stops us from doing the things we were supposed to do on that given day.
Have you ever felt hungover without drinking the night before? Here are some reasons why it happens.
Tipsy vs. Drunk
Feeling “tipsy” is one of the first signs that the alcohol you’re drinking is beginning to have an effect on your body. After consuming 1 to 2 drinks in an hour, a woman will start to feel tipsy. For a man, it typically takes 2 to 3 drinks in an hour.
Even though you feel the effects of alcohol while you’re tipsy, you should still have control over your speech, actions, and balance.
Once you’re drunk, your inhibitions have almost disappeared, and you’re probably starting to slur your speech or lose some of your balance. Being drunk can lead to heightened emotions, bad decisions, and painful next-day experience.
Why Do I Feel Drunk After one Drink?
Everybody is different. People are different weights, have different tolerances, and different reactions to drinking. And believe it or not, scientists have discovered a gene that deems some people as “lightweights.”
Because of molecules in their brains, some people are more sensitive to alcohol.
Plus, there are different types of alcohol. Some “fruity” and “sweet” drinks can contain 3 to 5 ounces of hard liquor. That’s a lot! And it’s one of the reasons why you might feel tipsy after 1 drink.
After 90 seconds of drinking alcohol, your BAC levels start to rise.
And if you ever drink on an empty stomach, you’ll also feel the effects much faster. Alcohol gets absorbed by the small intestine, and if your stomach is empty, all of that alcohol will go straight to your bloodstream.
When there’s food in your stomach, however, alcohol gets absorbed more slowly.
Conclusion – Don’t Get to the Latter Stages of Being Drunk
Drinking can be a fun way to spend time with loved ones or let loose. But some of the later stages of being drunk are dangerous and even fatal.
Even if you stay in the earlier stages of euphoria and excitement, you could still suffer from a severe hangover. That being said, there are certain alcohols that will give you less of a hangover.