A Guide to "the Optimal Buzz™"
Richard Reams, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Counseling Services, Trinity University
If you're looking to enjoy a buzz without having to deal with negative stuff like a hangover, then this guide is for you!
The crucial knowledge you need to obtain and maintain the Optimal Buzz concerns dosage--the amount of alcohol necessary to obtain and maintain a specific Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Which begs the question: What is the BAC “sweet spot” for the Optimal Buzz?
You’ll experience the pleasures of the Optimal Buzz if you keep your BAC in the range of .04-.06. But if your BAC level rises higher in the range of BAC levels, you’ll lose the Optimal Buzz. Once you overshoot the Optimal Buzz, you can’t get it back because of the body’s biphasic response to alcohol. To make matters worse, the higher your BAC rises, the more likely you are to experience things you’ll regret the next day.
To stay within the BAC sweet spot of .04-.06, you must know how many drinks you can consume during the time you are drinking given your sex and weight.
So what are the minimum and maximum numbers of drinks you need to reach the .04-.06 range without overshooting it? That’s a critical question because “counting drinks”--and knowing what counts as a drink--are essential to the Optimal Buzz strategy.
Unfortunately, calculating the proper number of drinks is tricky. Some contain a lot more alcohol than others. A margarita, for example, contains more alcohol than a bottle of beer--a lot more if the bartender is generous!
Staying in the sweet spot of .04-.06 also requires you to pace yourself and not get ahead of your liver, which will eliminate approximately onestandard drink per hour (there’s the time variable).
If this sounds like a complicated computation, an online BAC calculator will make it easy. You will enter all four variables: your weight, your sex (because women are at a physiological disadvantage), the number and types of drinks you consume, and the time you’ll spend drinking.
Presto! The online BAC calculator will give you an approximate BAC. You can adjust the types and quantities of drinks until you customize a strategy for staying in the .04-.06 BAC sweet spot. Then it’s up to you to use the information mindfully when you drink.
Those of you who have developed tolerance to alcohol are at a disadvantage. Not only you’re your buzz will be of lower quality, the depressant effects of alcohol will be intensified at doses beyond .06. But it’s possible to lower your tolerance and optimize your Optimal Buzz! Keep your BAC below .06 for 2 months, and that should do it (unless you have naturally high tolerance, which is one risk factor for developing alcoholism).
Two cautions: First, remember that if you have a generous bartender pouring mixed drinks--or if you are drinking party punch--you may be getting a lot more alcohol than you think! Second, it is neither legal (if you are under 21) nor “safe” to drive with an Optimal Buzz. Always have a sober designated driver or take a taxi.
If you follow this guide, you’ll maximize the pleasures of drinking and minimize the regrets. Plus you’ll also have a terrific response to anyone who insists that you have another drink: "No thanks. I've got a perfect buzz going here and I don't want to ruin it!"