Alcohol Tolerance in Heavy Drinkers

Alcohol Tolerance in Heavy Drinkers

If you are arrested for driving under the influence, a DUI defense lawyer in Orange County may be able to help. That said, if you are a heavy drinker, you may not realize how impaired you are behind the wheel.

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Heavy drinkers eventually become desensitized to the effects of alcohol and greater doses are then needed to achieve the same effect as previously. In fact, over time drinkers may experience greater stimulant-like and fewer sedative-like and aversive subjective effects after drinking than novice drinkers.


How Alcohol Tolerance Develops

There are several theories as to why alcohol tolerance develops. One hypothesis relates to the mechanism of alcohol action on the cellular membranes. In this scenario, alcohol can interfere with the sodium and potassium channels required for the transmission of nerve cell impulses. So, if alcohol is consumed over an extended period of time, this increases the activity of the enzyme responsible for activating the sodium and potassium channels, and compensates for the alcohol interference. Another theory holds that continued alcohol exposure causes cell membranes to become more rigid by increasing the cell membrane’s cholesterol content or content of saturated fat. Another belief is that extended alcohol drinking modifies the neurotransmitters, GABA and serotonin, and brain alcohol dehydrogenase activity.


Tolerance Consequences

Alcoholics develop an increased tolerance to alcohol at very high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. One study found that 24% of 54 subjects with a BAC of 0.20% or higher showed no signs of clinical intoxication. Another study revealed that, out of 32 people, seventeen (53%) had levels that exceeded 0.30% but showed very few signs of intoxication. This means, as a DUI defense lawyer in Orange County can tell you, that even if there some signs and symptoms of impairment, there is no actual correlation between BAC and performance for individuals with a high tolerance.


Frequent drinkers who have a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10% are less likely to get in a motor vehicle accident than a person with the same BAC level who is an occasional drinker. There was also a study that showed that between two drivers with the same alcohol level, the one with the lowest daily consumption of alcohol was much more likely to be involved in an accident. However, this does not mean that if you are a frequent drinker you should get behind the wheel of a car after drinking.


If you have been arrested for DUI, an aggressive drunk driving lawyer can help you fight the charges. To speak to a DUI defense lawyer in Orange County, call Mike the Law Office of Mike Coffey Attorney at Lawat (800) 706-7888.