The stages of intoxication are essential for a parent of a teenager to understand. A high blood alcohol level leads to an impaired condition and potentially devastating consequences. Since teenagers tend to abuse alcohol as a first substance of choice, giving your teen a better understanding of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is beneficial.
Such an understanding also provides an awareness of the physical signs of a high blood alcohol level. After all, the stages of intoxication are progressive, leading to more significant risks and showing more significant symptoms. Since teenagers can be careless when they experiment with alcohol, they tend to drink too much. Such binge drinking leads to extremely high blood alcohol levels and the threat of alcohol poisoning. Teaching your teen the warning signs of extreme intoxication can keep them safe.
Physical Consequences of the Stages of Intoxication
Most adults have experienced in their lifetimes, either firsthand or secondhand, the stages of intoxication. Still, despite this experience, they might not know all the physical consequences of a high blood alcohol level. Even if you have an intuitive image of the symptoms, it’s helpful to see them laid out.
The progressive physical consequences of a high blood alcohol level include:
- Flushed Face
- Inability to Concentrate
- Unclear Vision and Dulled Senses
- The Loss of Coordination and Balance
- Slurred Speech
- Inability to Stand or Walk
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Loss of Consciousness
- Shallow or Irregular Breathing
- Seizures and Convulsions
This list is not comprehensive. Different people react to a high blood alcohol level in different ways. However, these physical consequences are specific indicators of an impaired condition. The final tragic stage is alcohol poisoning when the body shuts down completely, sometimes resulting in death due to respiratory failure or liver failure.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and the Stages of Intoxication
The stages of intoxication of a drunk teenager reflect the teen’s high blood alcohol level. A high blood alcohol level is a reflection of blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) in the bloodstream.
Therefore, a BAC of .10% means that an individual’s blood supply contains one part of alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood. Nationwide, a person is legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of .08% or higher. Hence, a blood alcohol test that comes up .08% BAC or higher is legal evidence of intoxication.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “A blood alcohol test measures the level of alcohol in your blood. Most people are more familiar with the breathalyzer, a test often used by police officers on people suspected of drunk driving. While a breathalyzer gives fast results, it is not as accurate as measuring alcohol in the blood.”
Since blood travels through every organ in the body, the BAC reveals the amount of alcohol affecting a person’s brain. That alcohol coursing through the body needs to be processed by the body, which is the job of the liver. Therefore, when someone drinks faster than their liver can process the alcohol adverse physical effects occur, implying advanced stages of intoxication.
Given the dangers of a high blood alcohol level, recognizing the stages of intoxication beyond being legally drunk is essential. In truth, the physical consequences of .08% BAC are only the beginning of the danger zone. The Stanford University Office of Alcohol Policy and Education has published a table of BAC values and their corresponding symptoms that illuminates the connection between blood alcohol concentration and the physical consequences of drinking.
The Stages of Intoxication Show the Dangers of Binge Drinking
Given the perils that go drink-by drink with the stages of intoxication, teenagers need to avoid the illegal consumption of alcohol. Unfortunately, teens have been drinking behind their parent’s back since fermented beverages were first known to be consumed during the Stone Age, otherwise known as the Neolithic period (c. 10000 BC).
Thus, it makes sense for parents to arm themselves with information and resources. By understanding the stages of intoxication and the physical consequences of a high blood alcohol level, a parent possesses tools to help prevent teen drinking. At the same time, a parent also learns how to recognize signs of danger.
When you know a teenager is drinking, it’s much easier to take proactive steps to address the problem and avoid greater adverse consequences.