Effects of Alcohol Intoxication
last updated: April 3, 1995
- General Effect
Alcohol is a DOWNER that reduces activity in the
central nervous system. The alcohol intoxicated person exhibits
loose muscle tone, loss of fine motor coordination, and often has
a staggering "drunken" gait.
The eyes may appear somewhat "glossy" and pupils may be
slow to respond to stimulus. At high doses pupils may become
- Vital Signs
At intoxicating doses, alcohol can decrease heart
rate, lower blood pressure and respiration rate, and result in
decreased reflex responses and slower reaction times.
Skin may be cool to the touch (but the user may feel
warm), profuse sweating may accompany alcohol use.
Loose muscle tone, loss of fine motor coordination,
odor of alcohol on the breath, and a staggering "drunken" gait.
(related to the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC))
The effects of alcohol intoxication are greatly influenced by
individual variations among users. Some users may become
intoxicated at a much lower Blood Alcohol Concentration
(BAC) level than is shown.
- 0.02-0.03 BAC: No loss of coordination, slight euphoria and loss of
shyness. Depressant effects are not apparent.
- 0.04-0.06 BAC: Feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower
inhibitions, sensation of warmth. Euphoria. Some
minor impairment of reasoning and memory, lowering of caution.
- 0.07-0.09 BAC: Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision,
reaction time, and hearing. Euphoria. Judgement and self-
control are reduced, and caution, reason and memory are impaired.
- 0.10-0.125 BAC: Significant impairment of motor coordination and
loss of good judgement. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision,
reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria. It is
illegal to operate a motor vehicle at this level of intoxication.
- 0.13-0.15 BAC: Gross motor impairment and lack of physical control.
Blurred vision and major loss of balance. Euphoria is reduced
and dysphoria is beginning to appear.
- 0.16-0.20 BAC: Dysphoria (anxiety, restlessness) predominates,
nausea may appear. The drinker has the appearance of a "sloppy
- 0.25 BAC: Needs assistance in walking; total mental
confusion. Dysphoria with nausea and some vomiting.
- 0.30 BAC: Loss of consciousness.
- 0.40 BAC and up: Onset of coma, possible death due to respiratory