Alcohol and the human body

Brain with shooting neurons

Central Nervous System - Factors that Impair the CNS

Many factors determine the impact that alcohol has on the CNS. These factors vary, depending upon:

  • The amount of alcohol drunk
  • Time period over which the alcohol is drunk
  • Whether it is consumed with food
  • Whether it is mixed with other drugs, such as marijuana
  • How often you drink. Alcoholics, or those individuals with an addiction to alcohol, can drink more alcohol and feel the effects less than someone who does not drink often or at all.
  • Genetic background, such as ethnic background and gender
  • Mood and psychological makeup
  • Where alcohol is consumed
  • Size, weight, and sex of the person. Alcohol has a stronger effect on girls than on boys because even if a girl weighs the same amount, she has less water in her body. This is because, for the most part, girls have less muscle tissue than boys, and muscle tissue contains more water than fat tissue.

As a result, boys may have about 10 percent more water in their bodies than girls. That means for girls, alcohol is not diluted as much and they will have higher concentrations of alcohol in their blood. In addition, girls produce less of a particular gastric enzyme that is responsible for breaking down ethanol in the stomach.

Because of this, women absorb up to nearly 30% more alcohol into their bloodstream than men of the same height and weight who drink the same amount of alcohol. Women are also usually shorter and lighter than men, further concentrating alcohol in their blood. When women of average size consume one drink, it will have almost the same effect as two drinks do for the average size man. If women eat little or skip food entirely, that compounds the effects of drinking alcohol.

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