Let’s Talk About Booze

Let’s Talk About Booze

Did you know, adding carbonated water or tonic to a drink will speed up the absorption of the alcohol?

This is an example of what you learn at TIPS Training, a program that gives tools to servers for the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol. Clark Insurance offers this training to customers and, since the holiday season is in full swing, we wanted to share a few key facts with you too. After all, you may be planning on relaxing by the fire this year with a cold (or warm) beverage in hand. Spiked eggnog, anyone?

Size, Weight, and Gender, OH MY!

What do these have to do with alcohol? The general rule of thumb is that as you increase weight you increase your tolerance to alcohol. “General” is a key word here, though – there are differences at play involving gender and fat vs. muscle content that allow us to have a better understanding of why you may be feeling different after a few beers compared to your friends.

Fat vs Muscle

Photo of artfully arranged holiday drinks with booze or alcoholAlcohol travels well through tissue that contains a lot of liquid (muscle) and travels poorly through tissue like fat. What this means is that in a muscular individual alcohol can better distribute throughout the body, slowing its effects. Someone of the same weight who has more fat than muscle, however, will feel the effects quicker as the alcohol has less space to travel through to get to the blood stream. This is one reason why women tend to feel the effects of alcohol quicker: they generally have a higher percentage of body-fat than men.

Women vs Men

There is an enzyme in our bodies that breaks down alcohol called Gastric alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme is 50% more concentrated in men than women. Studies have shown that this leads to women absorbing alcohol more quickly, leading to a 7% rise in Blood Alcohol Concentration over a man of equal weight when drinking over the same time span. (1)

Beer and Your Burger

Where does food come into play? Food in the stomach delays the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. That is, a person will a full stomach will not be intoxicated as quickly as someone drinking on an empty stomach. Don’t forget – alcohol also takes time to get into the blood stream. So spacing out drinks and drinking something non-alcoholic will also slow down intoxication.

It’s Champagne Time

Let’s talk about our opening fact: carbonation and alcohol. Carbonation actually speeds up the absorption of alcohol. So, if you are mixing alcohol with soda or tonic, or drinking champagne, know that the effects will hit you fast and harder!


Both prescription and non-prescription drugs can interact with alcohol in serious ways. Here are two quick facts you should know:

  1. An important note for women: oral contraceptives can slow down the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the body, making women more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.
  2. Never take acetaminophen (Tylenol) when drinking. Combining it with even a small amount of alcohol can increase your risk of kidney disease by 123%. Also, Aspirin (Bayer, Excedrin) can increase BAC by 30%. (2)

Before we go – let me just use the Bathroom!

We know that alcohol causes dehydration (cue the hangover) but why does this happen? Alcohol actually triggers your kidneys to send water directly to the bladder – bypassing its usual water absorption process altogether. A higher BAC will increase this effect, ending up in the body releasing more water than is being consumed. (3) Now you know why you may be taking a few extra trips to the bathroom during a sports game.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how alcohol may be affecting you differently than those around you. This type of information is just a small example of what servers learn in a TIPS training. Clark is proud to arm our customers in Hospitality with tools for recognizing fake IDs, handling tough conversations (like how to refuse service to a customer), and more.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our TIPS training capabilities, feel free to contact Tim McCarty.

A photo of Clark Insurance staff member Tim McCarty

Tim McCarty
Director – Safety & Risk Consulting
Tim McCarty
Director – Safety & Risk Consulting

(207) 523-2204

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