While the preceding interactive visualization highlights one common consequence of excessive alcohol consumption that almost everyone can identify with, excessive consumption is capable of impacting one’s health in other, often times more serious ways.
Over time, the stress on your liver from breaking down alcohol can result in permanent damage. The reaction from your liver processing alcohol can cause inflammation (alcoholic hepatitis) and when this stress occurs on your liver for a prolonged time, it creates irreversible liver changes, such as enlargement, scarring, or cirrhosis, which can be deadly.
Alcohol also inflames liver cells and can lead to swelling that prevents normal bile flow. Jaundice is the result of a red cell breakdown pigment, known as bilirubin, being reabsorbed into the bloodstream and abnormally deposited in other body tissues. The bile buildup causes skin and eyes to yellow and is one of the many signs of alcohol abuse and liver failure.
Starting with the first sip, alcohol begins to affect your body. Alcohol is an irritant and causes a burning sensation when it comes into contact with the body. If you’ve ever used it to disinfect a cut, you’ve experienced this before.
The burning sensation you feel as the alcohol travels down the esophagus is the alcohol damaging the tissues that line it. As a result of the damage, the cells may try and repair themselves, which can cause DNA mutations that lead to cancer.
Prolonged, heavy consumption could lead to the development of various head and neck cancers. The metabolization of the alcohol produces a chemical that is a carcinogen and damages DNA and proteins within the body. Five drinks or more a day can double or triple the risk of developing cancer in your mouth, throat, or voice box.
While most alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream or passes through the stomach into the intestines, some alcohol can remain in the stomach where it increases acidity that irritates the stomach’s protective lining. This can give rise to ulcers and prevent the absorption of essential vitamins. When recurring, this effect can lead to the permanent damage of stomach lining.
Alcoholic.org seeks to educate on the causes, effects, and dangers of alcoholism and to connect individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder with treatment programs and providers that suit their recovery needs. Chronic alcohol consumption, for many individuals, is part of the larger issue of an alcohol use disorder and can bring about long-standing and significant consequences. However, this is not to say that there aren’t consequences at lesser levels of consumption as well. This interactive seeks to elucidate one such consequence in particular – the caloric impact of a night out drinking. While the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption can be extreme, this module focuses on an aspect that the average drinker might identify with. In doing so, it is our hope that users are better informed on how alcohol is affecting their health.
If you are experiencing the negative consequences of excessive drinking or are concerned about a potential alcohol abuse problem in yourself or a loved one, Alcoholic.org hopes to provide pertinent information about alcohol treatment and services to help you research and begin your recovery. To get in touch, please call 1-888-919-3845 today – our caring treatment consultants are available 24 hours a day.
Alcoholic.org encourages the sharing of this interactive visualization and screen shots from it. We ask that those doing so or mentioning the project link to Alcoholic.org and this page so that audiences may fully understand the project’s methodology and create their own visualizations.
Feel free to share any of the following outputs or screenshots:
This web application is for educational purposes only. Please do not rely on B.A.C. estimations for any legal or other formal purpose, especially to determine whether you are sober enough to drive an automobile.
This campaign derives its blood alcohol concentration (B.A.C.) formula from a study titled “The Elimination of Blood Alcohol Concentration” by Posey and Mozayani published in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology. This study establishes the following formulas, definitions, and constants:
t = time since consumption
W = weight of consumer (kg)
Β = elimination rate (g%/hour)
constant - average of .018g%/hour
t1/2 = absorption half life (hours)
constant - average of .1066 hours
A = grams of pure alcohol ingested (g)
r = windmark factor (unitless ratio)
The above function plots the B.A.C. at time t after the consumption of A grams of pure alcohol. If one drinks a 12-ounce beer that has 5% alcohol by volume, then .6 ounces of pure alcohol was ingested. In grams, that is .6 oz x 28.3495 oz/g = 17g of pure ethanol.
The last variable defined above, r, is known as the windmark factor. It establishes the ratio between the total amount of alcohol in a person’s body and the concentration of alcohol in his or her blood. While simple approximations of this constant depend only on one’s gender, the windmark factor used here is dependant on a person’s height and weight as well.
For more information on the windmark factor, and other constants in the B.A.C. equation, please refer to Pozer and Mozayani’s study linked in the sources section below.
To estimate the amount of activity needed to burn off the calories from your night out, we used a well-known equation which takes into account the energy cost of different activities as well as a person’s weight and the amount of time they are involved in the activity for.
Calories = METS (calories/kg*hours) x Weight (kg) x Time (hours)
In the above equation, the energy cost of a given activity is represented by the constant “METS,” which denotes the activity’s “metabolic equivalent.” To find the hours of activity needed to equate with the caloric intake during a night out, we rearranged the above equation to solve for hours:
Time = Calories/(MET x Weight)
For the calculations involving distance, such as running, biking, and hiking, we used the average speeds of these activities and the number of hours from above to solve for distance in the following way:
Distance = Time x Average Speed
Formula for B.A.C. and windmark factor (r):