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How much alcohol is too much drinking? Knowing your BAC can be key!

There has been some research suggesting that training people to better estimate their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), can help reduce accidents and improve risk-taking while drinking among college students (see here and here respectively).

I’m including a recent piece from one of our readers, telling us about her first over-21 drinking experience in Las-Vegas. I think this story exemplifies that young adults may often consume more alcohol than they are aware of while underestimating its effects. After each night, I included a total estimate of drinks she had that night. I left my comments to the end.

Getting drunk in Vegas – Alcohol at 21

As many who recently turned 21 year old would do, I went to Vegas to celebrate my coming of age in style. As my first post 21 Vegas trip everything was seen in a completely different light and just the thrill of handing my ID to the bartender or bouncer and confidently walking in to get a drink was wonderful.

I was in Vegas for 2 nights. I decided to keep track of my drinking and its effects because I’ve been learning a lot about alcoholism and was wondering about it quite a bit.

Day 1:

6 pm: First drink in Vegas- mojito on the rocks in a hotel cup and drunken quickly.

8pm: After dinner went to the infamous Fat Tuesdays, known for their humongous drinks in souvenir cups. I got a mixture of 32 ounce Pina-Colada and mango margarita. I started feeling the alcohol working and noticed I was smiling more.

Around 10:30pm: Still fairly full so I couldn’t really drink too much more but managed to have a mixed drink of vodka and cranberry before heading out to the clubs. Not many noticeable symptoms besides being a little more talkative

Around 1am: Found some guys that purchased a VIP table and had bottle service at their table so got as many free drinks of grey goose and vodka/orange juice as we wanted. We all felt pretty sober and so we downed about 3 drinks in a little over a half hour. I started to feel a little buzzed and relaxed from the intense amount of people and began to dance a little more and sit and sway to the music. I wasn’t as uptight about people being inside my personal space bubble. My eyes started getting a little heavy and I allowed them to relax but at the same time I felt them becoming slightly cross eyed (that may have been because I was tired).

Around 2:30am: I had another cranberry vodka drink after which I was definitely swaying more to the music with loose movements of my arms and entire body. As soon as we started drinking again we all had to use the restroom much more. My speech became a little slower and although I wasn’t quite slurring it was because I just spoke slower and drew out my words a little more and everything was said almost with a smile on my face.

Total drinks in night 1 = 8.5

Day 2:

2:30pm: Sat at the pool in the sun and drank some beer, drank slow so didn’t feel anything.

3:30pm: Went to the casino to play penny machines and drink. Ordered a Rum and Coke which I drank fairly quickly. Still not much of an effect. A little light headed.

4:15pm: New casino and slots; ordered a Malibu and coke. Smiling more and body felt much more free flowing. Ordered another Rum and Coke while trying to find a good slot machine. Next drink was a “tropical G-String bikini” (similar to a pina colada). Sipped that for a while trying to get it all out. Definitely smiling more and slightly more outgoing when talking to others. I wanted to keep gambling so that I did and won!! The last drink we had during this time spent in the casino was a glass of white wine. This was a great end of the our run in the casino because the wine made me more giggly and I couldn’t stop smiling. I also talked a lot more and with more volume.

Around 9:30pm: Sat in room and got ready and then friends came over to pre-party before we went out. I just had two glasses of mojito since we had already drunken a lot. I felt the mojito in all my extremities as they felt tingly and moved freely. We went to another casino to try a new club. There we got 2 free drink tickets

Around 11pm: Had one glass of champagne in the club. Wanted to dance more but stomach somewhat hurt so didn’t really want to keep drinking.

Around 11:30pm: Nonetheless got another glass of champagne and even the alcohol couldn’t help keep the crowds of people to a bearable point so we left shortly after making friends at the VIP table.

Once we left the casino wanted to gamble more and recklessly did so. We only gambled about $10 but made friends with the security guard and was much more friendly to everyone. Our love affair with gambling continued for about another half hour while we won some money. Mixing all that alcohol together did not make me feel too well regardless of the amount of water I tried drinking to fix it. Once back in the room I wrote “Then I feel sick and cold shakes god alcohol is so fun”

Total drinks in night 2 = 10

This experience showed me that over a long period of time all the alcohol definitely adds up even if it doesn’t initially affect you it definitely has a cumulative effect. It seems to me that the main signs to watch for if someone is drunk are the smiles and amount of talking they do. If their talking is slower, or if they are trying to pronounce words more clearly but still speaking abnormally loudly they are probably at least slightly intoxicated.


Adi’s summary – I think it’s pretty clear that drinking almost 20 drinks in 2 days can be called too much drinking. The effects of alcohol and its metabolites (the chemicals it leaves behind) on the body after this much alcohol are no doubt serious. Some of them, like acetaldehyde, have even been shown to cause cancer. Still, notice that the young girl writing didn’t ever recognize the level of stress she was putting her body under.

There’s no doubt that this early in life, one’s body is better able to handle such a weekend. As a person gets older, their body takes longer to recover and the damage become more persistent and permanent. I never heard about the effects this drinking had on her following the weekend, so I don’t know if she suffered a hangover, but I’d venture to say some Advil was in order…

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