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Tip 11:          H.A.L.T.

When I drink I know my limit.  I always have no more than six beers.  The other night I had my usual six but got really trashed.  Any thoughts as to why this happened would be appreciated.

Cindy B.,   Sacred Heart University, Sophomore

What does eating before you drink do to the alcohol?

Cruiser.,   V.C.U., Frosh


The amount of alcohol consumed is just one factor that contributes to how impaired you will get, Cindy. Your size, gender, metabolic rate, and how quickly you drink also come into play.  These are all factors that determine your Blood Alcohol Level.  The combination of your BAL and your tolerance to alcohol (how well, or not, you handle alcohol) then determines your level of impairment (how messed up you are).  In addition to the aforementioned issues, other factors will also influence how “messed up” a drinker will get, Cindy.


Hungry:  Drinking on an empty stomach will allow the alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly resulting in a higher peak BAL.  Cruiser, if you eat before you consume alcohol, the food slows the absorption of the alcohol into the bloodstream thus lowering your peak BAL.  The type of food ingested (carbohydrate, fat, protein) has not been shown to have a measurable influence on BAL. However, the larger the meal and the closer the time between eating and drinking alcohol, the lower the peak BAL. 


Angry or Lonely:  Alcohol, like many psychoactive drugs, tends to exacerbate the emotions the drinker may be experiencing prior to consumption.


Tired or Sick:  If feeling sick, just getting over a sickness or just feeling tired, alcohol impairment will develop more quickly and more intensely.


Drugs:  As previously indicated combining alcohol with other drugs can significantly intensify the level of impairment. (See Tip #9: Drugs)


Altitude:  If drinking at a higher altitude - visiting the Rocky Mountains or flying in a plane out to your favorite Spring Break destination - you will get more impaired more quickly.  The difference in atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes contributes to a faster absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream resulting in a higher peak BAL than at sea level. 


Follow the acronym HALT.  Avoid drinking if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, because you will get more impaired much more quickly. 

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