Reasons Why Some People Have Higher Alcohol Tolerance Than Others

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Think back to the heyday of your drinking days or even the last night out you spent with friends. You probably know someone who seems hammered after just a few drinks and others who can drink like a fish with little to no effect on how they act. Why is that, though?

For the lightweights and those who can drink anyone under the table, it all comes down to tolerance. The effects of the alcohol will kick in at some point, no matter what, but here are the reasons why some people don’t feel those effects until they consume a larger amount.

Gender and Body Weight

Two of the most significant factors are gender and body weight. In general, men can drink more before they begin to appear drunk. That’s not a universal rule, of course, but the phenomenon has been studied various times. Typically, it takes four more drinks for a male to reach a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 (the legal limit) than it does for a female. 

Body weight plays a significant role as well. The larger someone is, the more likely it is they can handle more drinks before becoming inebriated. This is simply because their ability to absorb the alcohol is higher, whether they’re larger in the sense of Andre the Giant or Michael Moore.


There’s also studies on biological factors relating to enzymes and neurotransmitters. Most of the alcohol you consume is metabolized by an enzyme known as alcohol dehydrogenase, and some researchers suggest that the amount of this enzyme varies from one individual to the next. The less you have, the faster you get drunk and the worse your hangover will be the next day.

As for neurotransmitters, a person’s brain might simply not receive the signals that tell them they’ve had one too many. This can cause them to act less inebriated despite drinking larger quantities of alcohol. Regardless of either, the human body does build up a tolerance to regular alcohol consumption that allows people to drink more and feel the effects less.

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There are some bodies of research that suggest your genetics might play a part in your tolerance level. If your family has a history of alcoholism, then you might be able to get away with drinking more than your friends. This isn’t concrete, but it could play a part.

Issues With Higher Tolerance

It doesn’t take a San Francisco Bay Area car accident attorney to tell you the risks of excessive alcohol consumption. It might seem impressive to be the friend in the group who can drink anyone under the table, but the risks of intoxication are the same for everyone.

Aside from impaired decision making, there’s always the risks of drinking and driving. Excessive alcohol consumption on a regular basis can also endanger nearly every aspect of your health. Cirrhosis, neuropathy, stomach cancer, and pancreatitis are just a few things to worry about.

There’s also alcohol dependence, which most people think of as alcoholism. This is when your body requires alcohol to function at any semblance of normalcy. The higher your tolerance, the closer you are to alcoholism, dependency, and various health issues.