Metabolizing Alcohol

Drinking socially can be a pleasurable experience, but consuming too much alcohol too quickly can cause grave consequences. Your liver can only metabolize about one standard drink per hour, and intoxication occurs when alcohol builds up in the bloodstream faster than it can be metabolized. The rate of this accumulation, or Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), is based on how much and how fast you drink, as well as on body weight and gender.

Alcohol poisoning is a dangerously high concentration of alcohol in the blood, high enough to induce coma, respiratory depression and death. It is considered a medical emergency and if you see anyone experiencing any of these warning signs, you must get help immediately.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning:

Mental Confusion    

Hypothermia (cold) 


Erratic Breathing 

Snoring or Gasping for Air 

Loss of Consciouness  

Throwing Up 

Pale or Blue Skin 


Standard Drink:

  • 12 oz. of beer
  • 1.5 oz. of liquor
  • 5 oz. of wine

Download a pdf of our feature that ran in the Post & Courier

Back to Know the Facts




Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs
67 President Street
MSC 861
Charleston, SC
(843) 792-2727