What Affects Alcohol Absorption?

If you’ve experimented with alcohol over the years, you probably came to realize that your body handles alcohol differently depending on a variety of factors, such as when you last ate, whether you’re sick or tired, on medication, or in a good or bad mood.

Good or bad mood? Yes, you heard that right. According to the University of Minnesota’s Boynton Health Service, an individual’s level of intoxication varies according to their physiological and biological factors, and this includes their stress levels. So, if you’re under a lot of stress, you can get drunk faster because of biological factors that come into play.


Here are some known and lesser known factors that affect how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream:

1. Your gender. Males in general hold their alcohol better than women. That’s because they have more of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol than their female counterparts. Hormone and body fat differences also make women less efficient at handling their alcohol.

2. How much you weigh. Larger people have more blood and water in their body, thus they have a lower blood alcohol concentration than smaller individuals.

3. Your stress levels. If someone is overly stressed, the stomach will empty directly into the small intestine where alcohol is absorbed at a faster rate. So, if you’re stressed, the alcohol will probably hit you harder than if you were relaxed.

4. Carbonated drinks. Should I mix my vodka with cranberry juice or soda? If you mix it with a carbonated beverage, it will speed up the passage alcohol from your stomach into the small intestine, which will increase the speed of absorption.

5. Medications. Many medications have adverse and unpredictable interactions with alcohol. You know that it’s not wise to mix alcohol with a medication when it says so right on the bottle. If you’re prescribed a medication, be sure to ask your doctor about its effects with alcohol. Learn more about harmful interactions from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

To learn more, check out “Factors That Affect How Alcohol is Absorbed & Metabolized” from Stanford Office of Alcohol Policy and Education Student Affairs.

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