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You may hear some people claim that they have a "high tolerance" and can handle more alcohol than others. There are two distinct things to consider in order to understand what tolerance IS and what it IS NOT.

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Many Factors Impact Our Bodies Ability to Absorb and Metabolize Alcohol

These include weight, hormone levels, body composition, enzyme levels, etc. Other factors can include how much a person has eaten, in what time period, and how hydrated they are. All of these differences can make two people who have had the exact same amount of alcohol in the exact same period of time have very different Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BAC). Sometimes when people say they can handle more alcohol than others, this is what they mean. If this is what they are describing as "tolerance" then this simply means that their body is processing alcohol at a different rate than others due to physiological differences and the dosage and corresponding effect of alcohol should be consistent over time for them. However, "tolerance" is actually something quite different.

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If you or someone you know finds that it takes more and more alcohol to FEEL intoxicated, it is important that you seek further education and resources and know if this is a time to get help.

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More About Tolerance

Tolerance is a physical and mental acclimation to alcohol, developed after habitual use. This means that while the person may have the same BAC level that they have had before, it may FEEL like their BAC is lower than it is. Unfortunately this is one of the early signs of physiological dependency. This means that the body has adjusted to certain intoxication levels and it now takes more for the person to feel the same physiological response, but the damage and risks to the body remain the same. In other words, just because a person is acclimated to being drunk doesn’t mean that they process alcohol any more efficiently or that they y can make good judgments, make good decisions or have good motor skills and reaction times.

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