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Updated 06 May 2013

The 6 stages of getting drunk

One drink and the conversation starts flowing. Pour another and you start relaxing as your confidence grows. By the next drink you're cheeky, chirpy and ready to party.

One drink and the conversation starts flowing. Pour another and you start relaxing as your confidence grows. By the next drink you're cheeky, chirpy and ready to party. But by the time you get into bed the world has turned upside down - and in the morning you have the mother of all headaches. What has happened to your brain?

The wave breaks in the forebrain then washes sideways and backwards over and through the brain and finally spreads to its deepest and most vulnerable part, the cerebellum, midbrain, brain stem and medulla oblongata, says Dr Izak Loftus, forensic and anatomical pathologist of the Pathcare group in Somerset West. (The illustration on page 80 shows how it happens.)

  • Drink lots of water, preferably with a little sugar or glucose dissolved in it. The liquid will counter dehydration and dilute the alcohol while the sugar will boost blood glucose levels. The extra glucose helps remove acetaldehyde, alcohol's toxic waste product that causes the headache, from brain cells.
  • An effervescent tablet containing vitamins B and C as well as N-acetylcysteine (which breaks down mucus) will help your system get rid of acetaldehyde.
  • If you need a painkiller take an aspirin or the anti-inflammatory naproxen. Don't exceed the recommended dosage.
  • A smoothie with lots of fresh fruit and yoghurt is a good idea for the morning after. Or simply eat any fruit, especially banana, mango or strawberries

  • Eat fruit, a sandwich or a piece of game biltong before or while you're drinking. Choose snacks that aren't too greasy - if you pick up too much weight during the holidays you might just be tempted to drown your sorrows . . .
  • Drink slowly when you're tired or after exercise as the effects of alcohol are more severe when you're fatigued.
  • Try not to have more than one drink an hour. This will ensure your blood alcohol content stays within the legal limit of 0,05 g/100 ml.
  • Women should drink slower than men - their bodies are less muscular and therefore take longer to break down alcohol.

Drinks 45 KG 63 KG 81 KG 100 KG Sex
1 0,04 0,03 0,02 0,02 Male
  0,05 0,04 0,03 0,02 Female
2 0,09 0,06 0,05 0,04 Male
  0,1 0,07 0,06 0,05 Female
3 0,13 0,09 0,07 0,06 Male
  0,15 0,11 0,08 0,07 Female
5 0,22 0,16 0,12 0,1 Male
  0,25 0,18 0,14 0,12 Female
10 0,44 0,31 0,24 0,2 Male
  0,51 0,36 0,28 0,23 Female

 
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