I'm hardly drunk and all my friends are puking their guts up. Help?
July 14, 2007 2:09 AM   Subscribe

Other than weight and the proof of the alcohol, what factors influence the level of intoxication resulting from a given dose of alcohol?

I was out at the bar this evening with some friends, and found that despite having had about 10 shots of tequila, I find myself only mildly impaired, and nowhere near puking. (I can tell now by my typing skill..when I've had too much, I backspace more than normal)

All my friends, who had less than I, passed the point of regurgitation. (save the designated driver, of course!) Some of them had the same all tequila evening as I, a couple of them had Southern Comfort and lime juice, whatever that's called.

Why is that?

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps my liver is healthy because I don't drink to excess often anymore.

Needless to say, it's something of a killjoy when everybody else is either passed out or puking and you've hardly got a decent buzz going, despite having more :p

Personally, I was convinced that the bar was diluting the alcohol, but based on the reaction of everybody else, apparently not.
posted by wierdo to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Food? Did you have a large meal?
posted by fire&wings at 2:22 AM on July 14, 2007

Food will slow down absorption, and greater muscle mass will dilute the effect.
posted by flabdablet at 2:27 AM on July 14, 2007

Lean body mass is the factor, not weight. Increased metabolic rate should flush your system slightly faster.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:31 AM on July 14, 2007

If you're a regular drinker, you increase your liver's capacity to metabolize alcohol. I'm not certain of the magnitude of the effect but based on some of the drinkers I've interviewed it's probably several-fold.

Your server may also have been watering down your drink in particular, and not anybody else's. I've had this happen to me from time to time and I'm never quite sure whether it means the server hates me or is trying to do me a favor.

Not being dehydrated and having recently had a multivitamin probably helps, too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:37 AM on July 14, 2007

Also, a great deal of the effect of alcohol is psychological. Perhaps your friends primarily set out to get drunk tonight, when your intentions were to enjoy the company of your friends.
posted by charmston at 3:09 AM on July 14, 2007

Here is a theory about the genetic component of tolerance to alcohol.
posted by jet_silver at 3:31 AM on July 14, 2007

i imagine your blood sugar level (how efficiently you metabolize the alcohol), your level of hydration, your weight, and your own personality all contribute to it. there is definitely a psychological component to intoxication--if you stay home and get drunk by yourself, you're not going to be as silly as you are out with friends. environment and how conditioned you are to it also plays a role--studies show that in a significant number of heroin overdoses, the culprit isn't the amount of heroin but rather a change of locale. a psychologist friend tells me that neat freaks tend to feel less intoxicated than slobs.

i've had nights where i've drunk to ridiculous excess but somehow never got too blitzed, and other nights where i've had only a moderate amount, in the same place, drinking the same drink, and with the same people, and felt the world start to spin. so, there are a lot of imprecise variables.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:41 AM on July 14, 2007

The mother in me is worried about you, weirdo. Isn't the ability to consume greater and greater amounts of alcohol without signs of intoxication is a sign of alcoholism? (scroll down link to "TERMS TO UNDERSTAND: tolerance")
posted by nax at 6:08 AM on July 14, 2007

Had you eaten something heavy and/or bready, like pizza? Pizza in particular increases the amount of beer it takes me to feel a buzz.
posted by peep at 9:02 AM on July 14, 2007

To answer your before-the-jump question, sex is a big factor. Women absorb alcohol more quickly than men, other things being equal.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:47 AM on July 14, 2007

I completely empathize, wierdo. I wasn't really heavy in college, compared to now, and that was my major period of heavy drinking. But I only got so sick once that I felt dizzy and went back to my dorm to lay down where I couldn't sleep for hours. I've never puked because of alcohol and never passed out. Now, I haven't been engaging in Temple of Doom style drinking contests, either, but I drank numerous shots and mixed shots with beer and other liquors and did all the other stuff and, well, occasionally it gave me an upset stomach, y'know.

Fortunately I have used this great tolerance only for good.

Same thing with weed: never affected me as much as other people.

So, metabolisms differ. Expect it in advance and don't feel like you have to keep drinking after others are providing floor covering.
posted by dhartung at 12:30 PM on July 14, 2007

If you had a good-sized meal beforehand that had lots of proteins and a lot of carbs (a burger being the typical example of 'has plenty of both'), the booze won't have as large of an effect.

Also, I've heard that taking a tablespoon of olive oil beforehand can help prevent drunkenness. Never tried it myself. Did you go out for some Italian food beforehand?
posted by flibbertigibbet at 1:04 PM on July 14, 2007

I wonder if wierdo threw up after asking this question.
posted by blacklite at 2:30 PM on July 14, 2007

If all of you are regular drinkers it may mean that you're able to achieve a tolerance that they cannot. You may just have a strong liver. Hydration and food are big players too.

Not being dehydrated and having recently had a multivitamin probably helps, too.

How does a mutlivitamin help? I'm very curious.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:25 PM on July 14, 2007

The complete metabolism of alcohol, which needs to happen quickly if you're not to feel sick, involves a number of the B vitamins as coenzymes. You want your liver to have plenty of NAD+ around (a niacin derivative) and plenty of the other vitamins around that are involved in NADH recycling. In addition, alcohol during its metabolism generates a lot of free radicals by lipid peroxidation and other mechanisms, which require vitamin E around to scavenge so they don't cause cell damage.

Finally, alcohol acutely impairs the intestinal absorption of a number of vitamins. Thiamin is probably the most important of these because it doesn't stay in your body very long (hours), so when its usually-continuous absorption is impaired, you become mildly deficient very quickly. That can also make you feel sick.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:45 PM on July 14, 2007

Acid redusers (Zantac, pepcid, etc) can increase intoxication because they leave less stomch acid to attack the alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. Or so the internet tells me.
posted by NortonDC at 5:13 PM on July 14, 2007

Hmm..I'm a not muscular fatty, and I know my drinks weren't particularly watered down. I had had an absolutely awful meal a couple of hours before going out, and a bunch of soda along with it.

It must just be psychological. I've only gotten stupidly drunk a couple of times, and as I mentioned in the question, I gave up my regular drinking to the point of puking years ago. Really, I don't even have much liquor at all any more. Last time I did was about few weeks ago, when I had 3 tequila shots at home (with my SO), and before that was another few weeks when I was at the BB King homecoming festival enjoying BB's relatively short set at Club Ebony. Lastly, I don't think there was any watering of my particular drink, as I saw them coming from the bartender to the server to my hand. Therefore, I don't think it's increased metabolism due to regular consumption.

blacklite, no, I didn't throw up, and I didn't wake up with a hangover, either, since I had 5 or 6 glasses of water before going to bed.

FWIW, I had an incredibly fatty meal (a Chicken Club Toaster and an order of Cheddar Bites) a couple of hours before we went out. The others had been at a work party where they had a more normal dinner.

Alcohol has made me puke a couple of times, but only a couple. I drank pretty heavily between the ages of 17 and 22 (I'm now 26).

Thanks everybody for your answers. I'd mark bests, but they're all good.
posted by wierdo at 7:33 PM on July 14, 2007

Drink familiarity may make a difference.
posted by daksya at 10:50 PM on July 14, 2007

FWIW, I had an incredibly fatty meal (a Chicken Club Toaster and an order of Cheddar Bites) a couple of hours before we went out.

Greasy foods (and foods with lots of non-sugar carbs) slow the absorption rate of alcohol.
posted by occhiblu at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2007

Are you on any drugs? Wellbutrin, for example, allegedly increases alcohol tolerance.
posted by puddleglum at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2007

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