Richard Reams, Ph.D.
Senior Staff Psychologist, Counseling Services, Trinity University

If you’re looking to enjoy a great buzz without having to deal with negative stuff like a hangover, then this guide is for you.

The ideal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for the perfect buzz is .04-.06.*  As your BAC level rises higher, you become increasingly likely to experience negative consequences, and your buzz goes sour.  Once you’ve lost the perfect buzz, there’s no way to it back, despite the common misconception that “I just need to drink more so I’ll feel good again.”  Not gonna happen!  It’s a physiological impossibility.

To reach a BAC of .04-.06*, you must know how many drinks you need to consume given your sex and weight.  The following chart provides an estimate of the number of drinks needed to reach the .04-.06 BAC range for drinkers who have not developed tolerance.**

Note:  *A standard drink is a 12-oz beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of liquor.  Remember that one mixed drink may contain more than one shot.  Thus, one Long Island Iced Tea is not “one drink” but two drinks.

 

Men

Women***

Weight

Approximate Number of Standard Drinks

100 lbs

1.0

1.0

110 lbs

1.2

1.15

120 lbs

1.4

1.3

130 lbs

1.6

1.45

140 lbs

1.8

1.6

150 lbs

2.0

1.75

160 lbs

2.2

1.8

170 lbs

2.4

2.0

180 lbs

2.6

2.15

190 lbs

2.8

2.3

200 lbs

3.0

2.45

210 lbs

3.2

2.6

220 lbs

3.4

2.75

230 lbs

3.6

2.8

240 lbs

3.8

3.0

250 lbs

4.0

3.15

To maintain a BAC of .04-.06, you must remember that the liver eliminates about one drink per hour (less for women than for men, and even less for women who are on the birth control pill).  So, to avoid overshooting the .04-.06 range, the drinker must have no more than one standard drink per hour after reaching the .04-.06 range.

If the .04-.06 BAC buzz is your goal, you have a terrific response to someone who insists that you have another drink:  “No thanks.  I’ve got the perfect buzz and I don’t want to ruin it!”

*Here’s a simple BAC chart, because most people don’t know what BAC numbers mean:
(Note:  Sleep deprivation will intensify the impairment of alcohol on your functioning)

.02

Light and moderate drinkers begin to feel some effect

.04

Relaxation continues and the perfect buzz develops

.06

Judgment is somewhat impaired

.08

Nausea and slurred speech can appear; coordination and driving skills are impaired (DUI in Texas for drivers 21 and older)

.10

Clear deterioration in judgment, coordination, and reaction time

.15-.25

Balance and movement impaired.  Risk of blackouts (memory loss), passing out, and accidents increase dramatically

.25-.35

Most people lose consciousness; risk of death

.40-.45

Death likely

** If you have developed tolerance, then it takes more alcohol for you to feel a buzz.  There are several disadvantages to developing high tolerance to alcohol. 

  • High tolerance will decrease the quality of your buzz (i.e., the stimulating effects of alcohol). 
  • High tolerance intensifies the depressant effects of alcohol (e.g., feeling tired, having impaired judgment and coordination) that you experience when BAC rises beyond .06.  Although a person with high tolerance may “feel fine,” his/her judgment, reaction time, etc., has deteriorated nonetheless. 
  • High tolerance costs you more both financially and in terms of your physical health, especially your liver’s health because of how much you must drink to feel alcohol’s effects.

You can reduce your tolerance in a month by not drinking or cutting way back.  With low tolerance, then you can have a better quality, low-BAC buzz again without having the impairments that an inferior quality, higher-BAC buzz brings. 

***Pound for pound, the same amount of alcohol will affect a woman more intensely than a man because

  • men have more water in their bodies, and water dilutes alcohol
  • men have more of a stomach enzyme (alcohol dehydrogenase) that breaks down alcohol before it’s absorbed into the blood stream
  • women respond to alcohol more intensely when they are about to have a period or if they’re taking the birth control pill