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View Full Version : How much alcohol could someone polish off in a night?



thethinker42
12-30-2008, 05:11 AM
I've got a character who's a pretty serious drinker...drinks A LOT. If she went on a serious binge one night, how much could she realistically drink (vodka) without killing herself or needing medical help? (Assume average height, slim build, has had a serious drinking problem for about ten years but only actually binges like this occasionally) Passing out, blacking out, wicked hangover, etc., is all fine...I just don't want to KILL her or put her in the hospital.

I don't really drink, so this boggles mah little non-alcoholic mind.

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 05:13 AM
Sheee-it...you want units? Bottles? Pints? Mixing grape and grain, what?

Seaclusion
12-30-2008, 05:14 AM
I drank 2/3 of a bottle of vodka by myself once. Wicked hangover for two days.

Richard

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 05:17 AM
Oh, vodka, yeah. Sorry. Should read the posts closer in future.

I have a bottle in my kitchen, lemme check...

Okay, back. It's a litre bottle. If she's an experienced drinker, not having much of a hangover is realistic if she drinks half a litre straight up. Or maybe that's just me. Depends on her tolerance.

I'm Scottish, though. My blood is Type O-Smirnoff.

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 05:21 AM
She's got a pretty high tolerance, but I'm trying to figure out if it's realistic for her to kill a bottle (or more) in a night without killing herself. Bottles come in different sizes of course, so I suppose I'm thinking a fifth.

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 05:22 AM
Oh jeez, you should have seen me about a decade ago. I could drink paintstripper and you wouldn't even know I was drunk.

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 05:24 AM
Oh jeez, you should have seen me about a decade ago. I could drink paintstripper and you wouldn't even know I was drunk.

Yes, but HOW MUCH paintstripper? :D

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 05:26 AM
Couple of litres.

I once blacked out for half an hour on 2l of cheap cider. But that was on an empty stomach.

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 05:39 AM
I think you should change your username from scarletpeaches to pickledliver.

jclarkdawe
12-30-2008, 06:38 AM
There are a lot of variables here. If you look up blood alcohol content (BAC) on wikipedia, you'll see there is a chart giving weight to drinks to BAC.

Binge drinking means different things. Does she binge once a year, once a month, or once a week? Does she drink heavily on other days?

Long-term drinkers can hit .40 BAC without a problem and go considerably higher. Ten years of heavy drinking can send the .40 level higher, but without a better idea of her habits, I don't know by how much.

A drinker (even a nondrinker) could get through a fifth in a night. Depending on the time spent and weight and drinking habits, you might not even see any outward signs.

I've seen long-term drinkers who buy Vodka by the gallon, and use two or three gallons per week. I think realistically you could have her go through a half-gallon before she passes out, using a weight of 130 pounds and starting drinking at 4 PM (when she gets out of work) and going to midnight or so. BAC would probably be something like .45 (normal people are dead at this level), but with a long-term heavy drinker, this number is no longer fatal.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

katiemac
12-30-2008, 08:09 AM
Jim's right about the variables. Are you more interested in showing the sheer amount of vodka she can drink or how she acts when she's hit her limit?

I'd believe she could drink a fifth on her own, and be more or less fine the next day, with all the intended consequences of blacking out, etc.

kuwisdelu
12-30-2008, 08:36 AM
I have a bottle in my kitchen, lemme check...

Okay, back.

I can't tell. Did you drink it all, or just check how much there was...? ;)


If she's an experienced drinker, not having much of a hangover is realistic if she drinks half a litre straight up. Or maybe that's just me. Depends on her tolerance.

I'm Scottish, though. My blood is Type O-Smirnoff.

Tolerance aside, anyone can avoid a hangover if they know how. It's essentially dehydration--drink enough water while you drink, and you'll never get one in the first place.

And just because I have to...

Smirnoff? Come on. Stoli!

Freakin' Scots...

DamaNegra
12-30-2008, 09:01 AM
Well, I once drank half a bottle by myself when I was about 14 (straight from the bottle, too). My hangover wasn't even all that bad. So I don't think a whole bottle would send a grown woman to the hospital. Maybe a bottle and a half without problems?

emandem
12-30-2008, 09:27 AM
JClark is right. A heavy drinker will go through a couple of gallons of vodka a week--and vodka is always a favorite. On a binge night, your MC may have tried to stick with a few beers initially (thinking staying away from the heavy liquor makes them not an alcoholic) but then they'll succumb to drinking the fifth of vodka at least. THEN (if the person was ill-prepared) he/she'll go into a panic of sorts looking for something else to top it off, maybe resort to some old bottle of table wine in the cabinet and drink that too. That would be enough to make him/her pass out eventually and feel pretty crappy the next day.

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 10:17 AM
Jim's right about the variables. Are you more interested in showing the sheer amount of vodka she can drink or how she acts when she's hit her limit?

I'd believe she could drink a fifth on her own, and be more or less fine the next day, with all the intended consequences of blacking out, etc.

Mostly I just want to make sure I don't say "she drank X" amount, when that amount would likely kill someone twice her size. If I say a character killed a fifth and a half of vodka in a night, I don't want someone stopping and going "WTF? She'd be dead!"

She drinks herself stupid, passes out, etc. I just want to make sure I don't kill her. LOL

She_wulf
12-30-2008, 10:33 AM
had to chime in with personal experience(s)...

When I was 17 and still a "puppy" at binge drinking, four friends and I finished six cases of beer. Wisconsinites + weekend + lake = average summer party. Of course, I think half the cans were in varying states of fullness (or emptiness) the next morning around the campsite. (hard to figure out where you set it down in the dark) Oh, and my friends... 120lb girls.

Then there were the college days. A frat house on Mifflin St. bested the Delta Drunk record by going through 35 half barrels one Saturday night. (University of Madtown!)

Flash forward to my ex's long term abuse of alcohol. His bar tab was 80-200 or more each week, every week. He'd drink Rumple Minze for giggles. Between him and two others, they finished a 70cl bottle along with tap beers during a time period of 5pm to 10pm. Then they decided to coke it up and go to a biker party for two days. Unfortunately, he lived. And I couldn't kill him. :(

When I still drank, I could easily down 6-8 beers without "feeling drunk" and without a hangover. (120lbs) If I drank mixers, I could go through at least 10 Jack and Cokes, of course I'd have to jump on something because of the sugar rush. If I stayed away from wines and rums, I never had hangovers and didn't black out either.

Tequila...reference Jack above and multiply it by 20, add fists and hair pulling, and throw in some colorful language, mix well and try not to throw up. I drank a half of bottle (not fifth, the next one up) one night, with beer(guessing 6-8?), and burritos. That was 6pm to 4am+ though. So almost twelve hours for all that. 'Walked home and made myself an omelet.

A fifth is barely enough to qualify as a binge for problem drinkers.(more like a party) A fifth and a twelve-pack...now you're getting the idea.

The ex's step mom could go through a fifth of scotch in a day at age 68 weighing in at a whopping 106. (that was when she was just taking it easy) She smoked constantly, and tanned until she was shoe leather over bones.

You remember that old lady who is the afterlife's receptionist in Beetlejuice? That was Gramma Dee's type, smoker's voice and all. "Commavah herend give gramma a kiss." *shudder* She outlived his dad.

Hope those little stories helped. It counted as therapy for me. :)

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 04:21 PM
I can't tell. Did you drink it all, or just check how much there was...? ;)



Tolerance aside, anyone can avoid a hangover if they know how. It's essentially dehydration--drink enough water while you drink, and you'll never get one in the first place.

And just because I have to...

Smirnoff? Come on. Stoli!

Freakin' Scots...

Might follow your recommendations. The last few times I've drunk Smirnoff it's sent me into a coughing fit and I've had a sort throat the next day.

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 04:26 PM
See, this is why I don't drink. Way too damned complicated. LOL

williemeikle
12-30-2008, 04:44 PM
Might follow your recommendations. The last few times I've drunk Smirnoff it's sent me into a coughing fit and I've had a sort throat the next day.

That would be the 40 Embassy Regal you had alongside the Vodka :)

Willie, anither Scot, and with plenty Vodka tales of his own to tell :)

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 04:47 PM
Ick. I've never smoked.

jclarkdawe
12-30-2008, 05:24 PM
Mostly I just want to make sure I don't say "she drank X" amount, when that amount would likely kill someone twice her size. If I say a character killed a fifth and a half of vodka in a night, I don't want someone stopping and going "WTF? She'd be dead!"

She drinks herself stupid, passes out, etc. I just want to make sure I don't kill her. LOL

You don't show how much she drinks, you show the result. Have her pass out and transported to the local ER. They'll take her BAC. Then the conversation goes something like this:

Experienced doctor or nurse: "Shit, she's .42."
Newbie doctor or nurse: "I thought .4 was dead." (Lots of disbelief can be shown here.)
"No, not for a chronic drinker. Our record ETOH (ethanol) is .63." (All ERs that I know of keep track of their record. World record that I'm aware of is a .9 something.)
"Oh."
"Bet her liver's just about short. Hook up an I.V., have security keep an eye on her, and I'll check back in a couple of hours."

She won't remember how much she drank, although she'll probably remember if she made a switch and blame that for what happened.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 05:34 PM
That's the thing: she doesn't drink enough to wind up hospitalized. She's alone, at home, and just binges. Wakes up feeling like shit, but otherwise is "okay".

jclarkdawe
12-30-2008, 05:47 PM
Have her clean up the next morning, tossing out the bottles, shocked when she sees she drank the cooking sherry. (If you've ever tried drinking cooking sherry, you'd understand the significance of this.)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

thethinker42
12-30-2008, 05:53 PM
Have her clean up the next morning, tossing out the bottles, shocked when she sees she drank the cooking sherry. (If you've ever tried drinking cooking sherry, you'd understand the significance of this.)

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Duly noted. As it stands, I had her kill a fifth and a half of vodka...but...

RJK
12-30-2008, 10:35 PM
I found this in Yahoo answers:

There are a few factors that come into play, your sex and body weight for example.

.40% blood alcohol content is generally considered lethal, though it may be somewhat more or less depending on the individual.

Generally speaking, a 100 pound man or woman who consumed 9 or 10 standard drinks in less than one hour would be in the lethal dose range.

scarletpeaches
12-30-2008, 11:24 PM
Do you have to write the amount? Perhaps you could just have her clear up the aftermath and fudge the number of bottles or cans?

Alpha Echo
12-30-2008, 11:30 PM
Smirnoff? Come on. Stoli!

Freakin' Scots...

You're both wrong. Grey Goose all the way. Soooo smoooooth.....mmmm....

thethinker42
12-31-2008, 06:14 AM
Do you have to write the amount? Perhaps you could just have her clear up the aftermath and fudge the number of bottles or cans?

Let's put it this way: it doesn't have to be precise, but I want to make sure I *don't* say "she drank X amount" or otherwise imply how much it was without a reader thinking "pffft, she'd be dead" or "amateur".

Aschenbach
12-31-2008, 07:29 AM
That's the thing: she doesn't drink enough to wind up hospitalized. She's alone, at home, and just binges. Wakes up feeling like shit, but otherwise is "okay".

2 bottles of wine fits the bill. Not a healthy amount to drink, but it won't cripple ya. And if your MC thinks of themself as a party drinker rather than problem drinker then he/she will probably drink wine rather than spirits, imo.

Vodka. It's all about the timescale. 70cl/1 litre in a couple of hours can lead to alcohol poisoning. But drinking that volume spread over a whole day would be water off a duck's back (or so i'm told :Sun:).

kuwisdelu
12-31-2008, 08:01 AM
2 bottles of wine won't even get some of us drunk...

scarletpeaches
12-31-2008, 08:03 AM
Two bottles of wine is what got me drunk enough to [censored] with my last boyfriend.

thethinker42
12-31-2008, 08:04 AM
2 bottles of wine won't even get some of us drunk...

See? So many variables. Damnation.

I think I'm just going to have her start on the first bottle of vodka, then clean up "the remnants of last night's binge" and leave it at that. Let the reader draw their own conclusions.

I've literally had one beta reader come back and say "pfft, what an amateur; I can drink that much and still speak coherently"...and the other came back and said that much would kill her.

I ARE SO CONFUZED!!

thethinker42
12-31-2008, 08:05 AM
Two bottles of wine is what got me drunk enough to [censored] with my last boyfriend.

Some of us don't even have to get drunk to be convinced to play a game of Monopoly, but apparently others require more persuasion...

scarletpeaches
12-31-2008, 08:06 AM
Would you believe me if I said it involved the Gladiator video?

thethinker42
12-31-2008, 08:07 AM
Would you believe me if I said it involved the Gladiator video?

Not if you said you had to drink two bottles of wine first.

scarletpeaches
12-31-2008, 08:09 AM
Gladiator was on while we drank, and then...

I'll take it to PM. Or leave you to guess.

*goes to bed*

(PS: He once phoned me from the other side of the world to tell me he'd watched it again, and thought of me. See? I have that effect of him. I was not merciful).

G'nite all! :)

kuwisdelu
12-31-2008, 08:14 AM
Next time try it with 300. ;)

kuwisdelu
12-31-2008, 08:18 AM
See? So many variables. Damnation.

I think I'm just going to have her start on the first bottle of vodka, then clean up "the remnants of last night's binge" and leave it at that. Let the reader draw their own conclusions.

I've literally had one beta reader come back and say "pfft, what an amateur; I can drink that much and still speak coherently"...and the other came back and said that much would kill her.

I ARE SO CONFUZED!!

I have a solution. Make her Eastern European.

It's impossible to kill an Eastern European with alcohol.

Being only half, myself, I can only be half-killed.

Until someone opens the box and collapsed the wavefunction.

I'm a kitty.

Points for, well, you'll know if you know.

thethinker42
12-31-2008, 08:29 AM
*makes note to lock kuwi out of the liquor cabinet...*

kuwisdelu
12-31-2008, 08:44 AM
:(

Don
12-31-2008, 03:19 PM
I have a solution. Make her Eastern European.

It's impossible to kill an Eastern European with alcohol.

Being only half, myself, I can only be half-killed.

Until someone opens the box and collapsed the wavefunction.

I'm a kitty.

Points for, well, you'll know if you know.
Oops. I opened the box.

Sorry about kuwisdelu.

There will be a memorial service later today.

Schrodinger will be attending.


:)

ETA: They're dropping like flies... Orlando, rob, kuwi...

*rubs hands together, evilly*

thethinker42
12-31-2008, 03:20 PM
*sigh* Way to go, Don...

GeorgeK
01-01-2009, 08:34 AM
Mostly I just want to make sure I don't say "she drank X" amount, when that amount would likely kill someone twice her size. If I say a character killed a fifth and a half of vodka in a night, I don't want someone stopping and going "WTF? She'd be dead!"

She drinks herself stupid, passes out, etc. I just want to make sure I don't kill her. LOL


In medicine, if you've ever worked where there's a veterans' domicile you'd have a good look at the extreme limits of the human body. You ask the patient, "How many cases of beer do you drink a day?"

"Uh, 2 or three?"

"And how many fifths a day? (of whiskey)

"2 or three, cause ya's got's to has a shot in each of them beers. A bottle per case uselees works just about right."

On another patient, this time a trauma patient who was driving because his friend was too drunk; he decided to make a left turn while on an overpass. He broke through the barrier and the car landed on the underpass on its roof. They crawled out, bleeding from multiple abrasions and managed to push and flip the carcass of the car into a ditch trying to right it. They climbed back in planning to drive to the liquor store when the tires were stuck in the mud. The cops pulled up so they floored the gas, spraying mud everywhere. Then their story has a hole until they were suddenly strapped to backboards and being rolled into the ER.

I got his BAL back before he was coherently rambling and extricating himself from the backboard. It was .67 I asked, "How much do you drink?"

"I drinks a bit," he said smiling. "When one glass is empty I gets another, but I'm an Injun so's I's can takes it.

I've also seen acute alcohol poisoning in a guy who only had half a beer. He was missing some critical enzyme in alcohol metabolism.

You character should have had more than half a beer and less than three cases of beer/whiskey boilermakers. Bingers usually have upregulated enzymes staying ready for months before their tolerance starts to drop. Don't worry so much about the quanity you pick. The tea totalers will be shocked at the volume saying it's too much, but the hard core drinkers will laugh and call her a cheap date.

kuwisdelu
01-01-2009, 10:48 AM
I transcend quantum mechanics.

Much like Johnnie Walker.

Palmfrond
01-01-2009, 10:13 PM
There's a huge amount of variability in the amount of alcohol one can drink to reach a given state of blood alcohol or a given state of drunkenness. People who drink every day cause the enzymes that metabolize alcohol in their liver to rev up, so the alcohol is metabolized quicker and the person can drink more without getting as drunk. They are able to drink large amounts without barfing because it's the blood alcohol level that nauseates them. People who drink once a week don't have the revved up enzymes, and they tend to start barfing before they can absorb as much alcohol as the daily drinkers, so they are less likely to drink themselves to death (they barf before they kill themselves). The slow but steady daily drinkers are the ones who are able to get those really high levels that can be fatal.

scarletpeaches
01-02-2009, 02:23 AM
I transcend quantum mechanics.

Much like Johnnie Walker.

kuwisdelu: both a wave and a particle.

GeorgeK
01-03-2009, 05:32 PM
I transcend quantum mechanics.

Much like Johnnie Walker.

Is that like?..."Sure, I could hold up that cadillac. Just let me set down my beer before you drop that pneumatic lift."

seun
01-03-2009, 05:46 PM
I once took a dive down some stairs and ended up with five stitches in the centre of my head.

And yes, I was apocalyptically shitfaced. :tongue

thethinker42
01-03-2009, 07:30 PM
And yes, I was apocalyptically shitfaced. :tongue

I think that all field sobriety tests should now include asking the person to say "apocalyptically shitfaced". If they can, they are clearly sober.

scarletpeaches
01-03-2009, 10:10 PM
I love that phrase.

*steals for her novel*

seun
01-04-2009, 08:08 PM
I love that phrase.

*steals for her novel*

You're welcome. :D

katiemac
01-04-2009, 10:00 PM
See? So many variables. Damnation.

I think I'm just going to have her start on the first bottle of vodka, then clean up "the remnants of last night's binge" and leave it at that. Let the reader draw their own conclusions.

I've literally had one beta reader come back and say "pfft, what an amateur; I can drink that much and still speak coherently"...and the other came back and said that much would kill her.

I ARE SO CONFUZED!!

Well, consider the setup, then. Can you include a conversation or a line earlier in the draft about how much alcohol puts her out? If she's a problem drinker, then maybe she doesn't admit to much, but a conversation when she's at a bar with someone wouldn't be too tricky to figure out.

"Do you want another glass?"

"Me? Oh, no. I've already had too many. If I finish this bottle I'll be done for."

Better yet, if she's a problem drinker, a scenario where a a friend tells her to stop because she's already had a bottle and you know this isn't going to end well. So, later, when she's by herself, the reader also knows what gets your main character good and drunk, plus the impending "oh shit" factor when she pops the second cork.