›› The Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol affects the nerve cells within the brain. Alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells by suppressing excitatory nerve pathways and stimulating inhibitory nerve pathways.

Alcohol may enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Enhancing an inhibitor would have the effect of making things sluggish, resulting in the behavior you see in a drunk person. Glutamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter weakened by alcohol. By making this excitatory neurotransmitter less effective, you also get sluggishness. Alcohol does this by interacting with the receptors on the receiving cells in these pathways.

The body responds to alcohol in discernable stages corresponding to increases in BAC:

BAC (%)StageClinical Symptoms
0.01 - 0.05Subclinical Behavior almost normal by routine observation
0.03 - 0.12Euphoria Increased self-confidence; reduced inhibitions
Increased sociability, talkativeness, slight euphoria
Decreased attention, judgment and control
Onset of sensory-motor impairment
Reduced efficiency in finer performance tasks
0.09 - 0.25Excitement Impaired perception, memory and comprehension
Emotional instability; lack of critical judgment
Decreased sensory response; increased reaction time
Reduced focus and peripheral vision
Impaired sensory-motor coordination and balance
0.18 - 0.30Confusion Emotional highs and lows
Confusion, disorientation, and dizziness
Distorted vision
Reduced sensitivity to pain
Reduced muscle control; difficulty walking and balancing; slurred speech
Listlessness, sluggishness
0.25 - 0.40StuporDecreased responsiveness to stimuli
Lack of motor function; low energy
Inability to stand or walk; poor muscle coordination
Loss of bladder and bowel control; vomiting
Partial unconsciousness; apathy
0.35 - 0.50Coma Total unconsciousness
Diminished autonomic responses
Body temperature dangerously low
Sluggish circulation and respiration
Potential death
0.45 + Death Respiratory arrest and death