Okay collegiettes, it’s Friday afternoon and before you make any more weekend plans, you need to stop and download this new app to ensure a safe night on the town. The “Virtual Bar” app, from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, uses the latest science to help you determine your blood alcohol content, the concentration of alcohol in the blood, based on you as an individual. It uses your gender, age, weight, height, and the amount of food you’ve eaten to calculate how your BAC will increase and even estimates how long it will take for your BAC to return to 0.00!
Now, keep in mind that this is not for scientific or medical purposes but, as per the app’s disclaimer, is “for illustrative purposes” and “designed to help adults of legal drinking age understand the factors that affect their BAC.” The app should not replace your own responsible choices and can vary between individuals. It can even be different for the same person at different times! For example, the app does not take into consideration any prescriptions you might be using and should not be drinking on and no matter what the app says, play it safe and get a ride or walk.
With that being said, I gave this app a hypothetical test run from the very sober confines of my desk approximately five hours before any happy hour began. After downloading the app on my iPhone (it’s also available on Android), it asked me to pick male or female, as females typically need less alcohol to become intoxicated, and then my age, weight and height. I entered that I am 22 years old and approximately 5’5’’, 116 pounds. Again, the results vary because no two bodies are the same.
Next, I imaged what I’d rather be doing than sitting at my desk and chose to order a virtual margarita, hold the salt please. It asks how long it takes you to drink it because you should be doing this in real time. I said 30 minutes because… that’s probably realistic. Right away, my BAC jumped to .04! For context, .08 is when it is illegal to drive, so I was pretty close to that with only one drink. The app also predicted that I was probably starting to feel relaxed, talkative, and maybe a little coordination-impaired (oh, margs). The app also informed be that it would take two hours and 55 minutes for my BAC to return to 0.00… after just one margarita!
So I sat back, sipped my virtual marg, and decided to order some food. The app has you choose what kind of food you’d be eating such as high or low protein, fat, and carbs. I chose 500 calories of high fat because I’m imaging nachos and then 500 calories of carbs because quesadillas, of course. Suddenly I’m at .02. Okay, cool… until I run into some virtual pals at the bar - I'm like a Sim! - and we decide to take shots. After, I have a beer over the course of 15 minutes. Oops... So far, I’m down one margarita, one beer, and two shots in 47 minutes (okay, that’s extreme) at a whopping 0.15 BAC. Even crazier, it would take TEN HOURS for me to return to 0.00. So girl, if you have work the next morning and you’re still feeling a little fuzzy, that’s why! It warned me that I’m approaching “blackout territory” and could likely experience gaps in my memory. Think of this app as that super responsible friend that that warns you about not slamming dranks too fast. Thanks, gurl.
Sitting here at my desk, wishing I really was sipping a drink and eating nachos, it put into perspective how fast my BAC does rise and how I can lose track if I’m not paying attention. Logging your food and drinks may not be as easy as it seems when you’re partying but since you’ll probably have your phone out anyway (hi, drunk Snaps), I challenge you to try to keep track. Every time you reach for your wallet, try to log that drink, too! Stay safe, smart, and only mildly hungover at brunch the following day.