Factors related to alcohol absorption Long-Term Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Factors related to alcohol absorption to remember include:
  • 70%-80% of alcohol is absorbed through the small intestine and not the stomach.
  • Food does slow down absorption.
  • Strong emotions usually speed up absorption.
  • If a man and woman of equal weight drink the same beverage, the woman's BAL will be higher.
  • Different beverages may be absorbed at slightly different rates and carbonation speeds up alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
  • The faster alcohol is consumed, the faster it reaches the bloodstream.
  • The larger the drink, the more effect it will have.
  • Drinking fast achieves a faster and greater effect.
A large person has more fluid in their body than a small person. Therefore, if a large person drinks the same as a small person in the same amount of time, the small person will have a higher BAL
Average individuals will eliminate alcohol from their bodies at the rate of approximately .015 BAL per hour. When a person stops drinking, the BAL will continue to rise for some time. After a late night of drinking, it is very possible that a person will still be impaired in the morning when driving to work.

Drugs enter the bloodstream and affect the body at different rates depending on the type of drug and how it enters the system. When a substance is shot straight into a blood vessel by intravenous injection, it enters the bloodstream instantly. Smoking transfers substances to the brain faster than when a drug is injected or swallowed. The higher the percentage of the active ingredient in a drug, the more quickly it will usually reach the bloodstream. Drugs are eliminated by being metabolized or excreted. Rates vary greatly depending upon the type of drug involved and medical condition of the person.

The introduction of alcohol and other drugs to the system impacts almost every critical function you need to be alert, see clearly, and be responsive.

You get about 90% of the information you need to drive safely from your eyes. Alcohol and drugs affect the field of view, ability to see color, and visual acuity. They also affect the supply of oxygen to the bloodstream and can damage the liver, stomach, pancreas, heart, and result in brain disorders.

Short-term effects of alcohol and other drugs include:
  • Altered perception
  • Impact on our emotions
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Decreased motor ability
  • Impact on the heart
  • Hangover
Altered Perception - Perception is what gives meaning to our senses. Alcohol impairs vision and hearing as well as the other senses. Time may appear to pass more rapidly and pain sensation may be masked because senses are dulled.

Emotions - Emotions involve feelings (anger, fear, excitement, etc.). Risk-taking of all types is enhanced and inhibitions are reduced. Aggression is more likely.

Sleep - Depressant effect may bring on sleep, but agitation effect may cause a person to wake up (especially with long-term use).

Motor ability - Speech, walking, and other motor tasks are impaired.

Heart - Heart rate and blood pressure are elevated. While moderate amounts of alcohol (1-2 drinks per day) have been shown to produce possible heart benefits, heavy drinking can contribute to heart disease.

Hangover - Headache, thirst, nausea, fatigue, and anxiety are symptoms of a hangover. High BAL and drinks with congeners tend to produce hangovers. Congeners result as the natural process of fermentation and distillation. These add the smell, taste, and color to beverages. Wine is an example of a beverage high in congeners while vodka is low in congeners. Basically, hangovers are the body’s adverse reaction to introducing an excessive amount of a toxic substance into the system.

Too much alcohol consumed too fast exceeds the liver’s capacity to process the alcohol through the body systems. Consequently, the high is prolonged, but the letdown, when it comes, is also protracted and most unpleasant. Hangover is a “mini-withdrawal” from alcohol. This leads to rebound headache, upset stomach, early-morning awakening, tremors, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Alcohol first affects the brain’s higher learning center. This is the area which most affects the driving task, as driving involves a great deal of complex decision-making.

The sequence of brain growth progresses from vital functions to muscle control to higher learning center. Alcohol impairs the higher learning center first, muscle control center second, and vital functions third.

Higher learning involves such areas as judgment, reasoning, decision-making, and inhibitions. Judgment is the first ability affected by alcohol. This is particularly damaging to the driver, as driving is primarily a higher learning (judgment) task.

When an individual has consumed alcohol, the higher learning center is influenced and the ability to process information is impaired (dependent upon the amount of alcohol consumed). In this condition, the driver retains certain physical abilities, but the level of self-control normally exhibited may be adversely affected to some degree and complex reaction time is slowed.

Because alcohol affects the part of the brain which allows persons to think clearly, the person may not recognize impairment and actually feel he/she is performing better. As drinking continues, speech and muscular control tend to diminish. If drinking continues at immoderate levels, an individual runs the risk of losing consciousness and, in extreme circumstances, losing vital functions and possibly dying. This could be the result of alcohol severely affecting respiration as well as cardiac function.
Visual Acuity

The retina in the back of the eyeball is made up of millions of rods and cones, each connected by a nerve fiber which runs to the brain. Nerve (neural) impulses are sent to the brain along these nerve fibers to transmit the picture focused on the retina. The retina is like film in a camera. The cones can transmit color while the rods transmit only dark and light.

Sharpness of vision (acuity) is greatest in the center of the retina (where most light rays are focused) where the cones are most dense. Details such as traffic signs can be seen in this area.

Alcohol, or any other drug which reduces the supply of oxygen in the bloodstream, can impair the sensitivity of the cones which, in turn, reduces the visual acuity or sharpness.

At low levels of illumination, most of the seeing is accomplished by the rods with some help from the cones. This is why visual acuity is reduced more than one-half at nighttime.

For example, a person with 20/40 daytime acuity may have only 20/100 vision at night, even less under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Again, if there is a lack of oxygen, sensitivity is reduced.


Night Vision

Vision at night does not involve so much the seeing of small details as the detection of objects on the field of view. At normal nighttime illumination, this involves the use of both the rods and cones.

Many factors affect the ability to see at night, one of these being alcohol. At night there is little to stimulate the rods and cones. Anything which decreases their sensitivity makes seeing more difficult. In order to see clearly, the right amount of light must reach the retina. This is controlled by the pupil which acts like a camera shutter. The opaque iris (colored portion of the eye) closes the pupil opening (black area) so that in bright light the size of the pupil is reduced to limit the amount of light entering the eye and, thus, protect the retina.

At night, the pupil is enlarged to allow the maximum amount of light to enter. Normally, it takes one second for the pupil to constrict and respond to the glare of oncoming headlights. It takes seven seconds after exposure to headlight glare for the pupil to adapt once again to dark conditions. This recovery action is slowed by alcohol.

Eye Focus

To obtain a clear picture, the rays of light must be focused on the retina in the back of the eyeball. This is accomplished by means of the eye’s lens which has a muscle which brings subjects into focus. If this muscle is relaxed by alcohol, then a distortion of light rays appears on the retina. In turn, an interference in the impulses sent to the brain results in a faulty or fuzzy picture of the traffic scene.
Peripheral (Side) Vision

While looking straight ahead, you can notice objects at the side even though you cannot see them clearly. This ability is most important when going through intersections or past parked cars where pedestrians may suddenly step out.

A BAL of .055 can reduce the field of vision by 30%. A reduction of the visual field makes it more difficult to see potential hazards on either side.

Speed also has an adverse effect on the field of vision. Most drivers fail to realize that at 30 mph a driver has reduced his side vision by 25%. At 45 mph he has reduced his side vision by 50%. And at speeds over 60 mph he is literally driving down a “vision tunnel."

When you add the effects of alcohol to the decrease in field of vision caused by speed, a driver’s field of vision is greatly reduced.

Color Distinction

The cones in the retina make it possible to distinguish between red and green. This is important, especially when approaching traffic signals. When the sensitivity of these cones is decreased by alcohol, it becomes more difficult to distinguish colors. Also, if visual acuity is affected, images will be blurred and two colors next to each other may appear as a blur.

Distance Judgment

Our ability to move from one lane to another determines whether a car is approaching or moving away from us, and passing another car as well as parking, is dependent upon the ability to judge distances. This is accomplished largely as a result of the brain’s receiving two slightly different images from the two eyes. Since the two eyes are separated, the two pictures are slightly different. This process can be compared to the way a camera works. If there is sufficient alcohol in the blood to prevent the two eyes from working together, then the results are a double image or suppression of one image.

In either case, the ability to judge distance will be greatly reduced. Try judging distance with one eye closed by having a friend hold a pencil in a vertical position. Now try to touch the end of the pencil by bringing the index finger down towards the pencil. Note how difficult it is to judge distance when using only one eye.

Research indicates that a blood alcohol level of .12 reduces the distance a pedestrian can be seen by a driver by about 20%. In many cases this is enough to make the visibility distance much less than the stopping distance.

Double Vision

The best vision is obtained when the two eyes work together. To do this, both eyes must be looking at the same spot at the same time - directed to the same point in space. This is accomplished by six muscles attached to each eye which automatically point the eye to the object to be seen. When these muscles are relaxed by fatigue, drugs, or alcohol, the two eyes may not be focused on the same point. The result is double vision.

In this case, the brain can do one of two things. If one image is weaker, the brain may ignore (or suppress) that image. In this case, only one eye will be used - causing poor depth perception and peripheral vision. On the other hand, if both images are seen and interpreted by the brain, the brain will see a double image. A driver may see two cars approaching or two sets of headlights and not know which one to avoid and which to ignore.

For some people, alcohol can cause an uncontrolled rapid oscillation (or vibration) of the eyeballs, making good vision almost impossible. With properly coordinated eyes, driving ability is improved, since the two images tend to reinforce each other.
Other Effects

Alcohol has many other effects on the body. Included on the list are:
  • Physical condition
  • Coordination
  • Reaction time
Physical Condition - While alcohol has calories, they are not nutritional in nature and thus can contribute to poor physical condition if drinking is substituted for eating nutritious foods.

Coordination - Hand-eye coordination, walking, and balance are all adversely affected by alcohol.

Reaction Time - While simple reaction time (one response to one stimulus) is typically not adversely affected until legal levels of impairment are reached, choice or complex reaction time (responding to multiple stimuli and response possibilities) has been shown to be affected by blood alcohol level of at least .04.


Long-Term Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs

Chronic long-term use of alcohol or other drugs can produce many adverse health effects on humans.

Some of the damaging effects of alcohol include:

  • Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver. This is a leading cause of deaths in the U.S. Long-term heavy use of alcohol is the cause of this in 80% of the cases.
  • Excess stomach acid. Alcohol causes the stomach to produce excess stomach acid. This can lead to gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining) and lead to stomach ulcers.
  • Pancreas effects. Alcohol can influence the pancreas. This can cause nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  • Irritated esophagus. The esophagus can become irritated which causes chest pain and pain when swallowing.
  • Alcoholic heart muscle disease. Long-term alcohol use can deteriorate the heart muscle.
  • Malnutrition. Over consumption can lead to nutrient deficiencies as the calories from alcohol are “empty” (few vitamins, minerals, etc.).
  • Brain disorders. Chronic excessive use of alcohol has been shown to be directly associated with neurological and mental disorders as well as seizures. Korsakoff’s Psychosis (profound recent memory impairment) and brain shrinkage can result.
  • Weight loss/gain. Weight loss requires burning more calories than being taken in. Alcohol can increase appetite and reduce the amount of fat your body burns for energy.

SUMMARY Review

Vision is critical to safe driving. Sharpness of vision (acuity) is greatest in the center of the retina (where most light rays are focused) where the cones are most dense. Details such as traffic signs can be seen in this area. Alcohol, or any other drug which reduces the supply of oxygen in the bloodstream, can impair the sensitivity of the cones which, in turn, reduces the visual acuity or sharpness.

Normally, it takes one second for the pupil to constrict and respond to the glare of oncoming headlights. It takes seven seconds after exposure to headlight glare for the pupil to adapt once again to dark conditions. This recovery action is slowed by alcohol.

A BAL of .055 can reduce the field of vision by 30%. A reduction of the visual field makes it more difficult to see potential hazards on either side. When consuming alcohol, the sensitivity of the cones of the retina decreases, making it more difficult to distinguish colors. Research indicates that a blood alcohol level of .12 reduces the distance a pedestrian can be seen by a driver by about 20%. Alcohol consumption can also result in double vision.

Consuming alcohol also effects physical condition, coordination, and reaction time. Some more of the seriously damaging effects of alcohol include:
  • Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver
  • Excess stomach acid
  • Pancreas effects
  • Irritated esophagus
  • Alcoholic heart muscle disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Brain disorders
  • Weight loss/gain


Florida TLSAE/Drug & Alcohol 4 hour Course Online

Who is required to take this 4-hour drug and alcohol course?


This is a first-time drivers ed course for new aspiring drivers. The state of Florida requires all new drivers take a 4-hour drug and alcohol course. If you want your Permit License you must take this course. You can take the DATA course when you are 14 1/2. You can sign up right now at our website. Our course is easy and fun!
  •     Florida 4 hour first-time drivers course also referred as:
  •     TLSAE - Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education
  •     DATA - Drug Alcohol Traffic Awareness course
  •     DATE Drug Alcohol Traffic Awareness Education course
  •     ADAPT - Alcohol Drugs Accident Prevention Training
  •     Drug & Alcohol Course or Drug and Alcohol Class
  •     Florida Permit Test or Florida Permit Exam Course
  •     The Permit Test is also known as the DMV Exam or DMV Test
Florida first time driver course required to get a Florida drivers license. Florida first time driver courses teach drivers how drugs and alcohol affect driving,. In that situation you have to go home, make a new appointment and return the DMV. Every new driver is required to take a Florida TLSAE course.

Enroll your Florida 4 hour drug and alcohol course online and meet your learner's permit requirement.

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