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  • How Much Hard Liquor Does It Take To Get Drunk?

    Published on September 9, 2021
    How Much Hard Liquor Does It Take To Get Drunk?

    Hard liquor is a distilled alcoholic drink with high alcohol content. Examples include brandy, gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey.

    Because hard liquor contains more alcohol than other alcoholic beverages, even a small amount can get a person drunk

    How Much Hard Liquor Does It Take To Get Drunk?

    In general, you’re considered drunk when your blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08%, which is the legal limit. Blood alcohol concentration (also called blood alcohol level, blood alcohol content, or BAC) refers to the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. 

    Most people reach a BAC level of 0.08% after consuming three or four shots of hard liquor. A “shot” is about 1.5 Ounces. 

    However, the exact amount of hard liquor it takes to get drunk depends on personal factors, including:


    If a man and a woman have the same number of drinks, the woman will generally get drunk first. This occurs for a few different reasons.

    First, men are typically larger than women, which means men’s bodies have more water to dilute alcohol. 

    In addition, women tend to have more body fat than men. Fat can’t absorb alcohol, which means a woman’s body will retain more alcohol than a man’s. 

    Finally, women usually have less alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) than men. ADH is an enzyme that helps the body break down alcohol. The less ADH you have, the longer alcohol stays in your body. 

    Body Weight

    Generally, the more you weigh, the more alcohol you’ll need to get drunk. That’s because, as mentioned above, larger people have more water in their bodies to dilute alcohol. 


    As you get older, you have less water in your body to dilute alcohol. In addition, your muscle mass gets replaced by fat. As mentioned above, fat can’t absorb alcohol. Thus, older people tend to get drunk more quickly than younger people. 

    Alcohol Tolerance

    Alcohol tolerance refers to your body’s sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. The higher your tolerance, the longer it will take for you to get drunk. People who regularly drink alcohol have a higher tolerance than those who drink less often. 

    Rate Of Alcohol Consumption

    The faster you drink, the faster you’ll get drunk. That’s because drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time (also called “binge drinking”) disrupts your body’s ability to process alcohol. 

    In most cases, people drink hard liquor more quickly than they drink other types of alcohol. For example, many people take numerous shots of hard liquor within a few minutes. 

    Other people only drink hard liquor when it appears in mixed drinks. These drinks contain sweeteners and flavorings that mask the taste of liquor, which typically leads to faster consumption.

    Other Factors

    Other factors that affect how long it takes to get drunk include:

    • certain health conditions, such as genetic enzyme deficiencies, which can affect how your body processes alcohol 
    • whether you drink on an empty stomach, which causes alcohol to enter your bloodstream more quickly 
    • whether you take prescription drugs, as certain drugs (such as benzodiazepines and opioids) intensify the effects of alcohol 

    Risks Of Getting Drunk On Hard Liquor

    Getting drunk on hard liquor poses serious risks to your health, including:

    Impaired Judgment

    Like other forms of alcohol, hard liquor impairs your judgment. With impaired judgment, you’re more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors such as:

    • drunk driving, which can lead to car crashes
    • risky sexual behavior, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy
    • suicide or homicide 

    Alcohol Poisoning

    Also called alcohol intoxication, alcohol poisoning occurs when you drink too much alcohol too quickly. Common signs include:

    • nausea and vomiting
    • stomach pain
    • slow heart rate
    • slow or irregular breathing
    • confusion
    • extremely low body temperature
    • pale, bluish, or clammy skin
    • loss of consciousness

    If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. When left untreated, alcohol poisoning can be fatal. 

    Alcohol Use Disorder

    If you regularly get drunk on hard liquor, you face a high risk of alcohol use disorder. Also called alcohol addiction, this disease makes you feel unable to stop drinking alcohol. Other signs include:

    • needing increasingly larger or more frequent drinks to feel the desired effects (tolerance)
    • experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink (physical dependence
    • withdrawing from friends and family
    • losing interest in activities once enjoyed

    If you or a loved one feels unable to stop drinking hard liquor or another type of alcohol, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. 

    Our alcohol abuse treatment programs provide inpatient and outpatient services such as medical detox, mental health counseling, and support groups.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Alcohol and Tolerance
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Overview of Alcohol Consumption
    United States National Library of Medicine - Ethanol poisoning

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