Amount drunk: Obviously, how much one drinks is fundamental to intoxication. Contrary to popular myths, all forms of alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) are equally intoxicating. Although hard liquor contains a higher percentage of alcohol, beverages with higher levels of alcohol are usually smaller and/or diluted. Therefore, as a general rule of thumb it is reasonable to think of how much alcohol a person consumes by how many drinks he or she has (a can of beer has about as much alcohol as a glass of wine or a typical mixed drink). For a normal 150-pound male drinking on an empty stomach, each drink he consumes within an hour will raise his blood alcohol level about .03%.
- Time elapsed: The liver is the primary organ the body relies on to remove alcohol (which is why alcoholism leads to liver damage). The liver metabolizes alcohol at a relatively constant rate. Therefore, if someone drinks faster than the liver can remove the alcohol, the blood alcohol level continues to rise.
- Body size: Intoxication is a function of blood alcohol level. Because larger persons have more blood, they can generally drink more than smaller persons to achieve the same level of intoxication.
- Food in the stomach: Alcohol readily absorbs into the blood stream. However, food in the stomach slows this process down. Drinking on an empty stomach results in faster intoxication.