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Doing the '12 Pubs'? ... Here's what happens to your body after each one of those drinks

No-one does a ‘Four Pubs of Christmas’. But it might seem like a hell of a better idea, after reading this.

PLANNING A ’12 Pubs of Christmas’ outing this year?

Judging by the crowds in the pubs last weekend, the tradition is alive and well.

Publicans we spoke to for this article last week said they were stepping up security over the next few weekends, due to the inevitable influx of jumper-wearing drinkers.

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon, it entails groups of friends getting together and attempting to drink 12 pints (it’s usually pints) in 12 different establishments over a single night. There are other rules sometimes — but it essentially boils down to a festive pub crawl through town.

So…  What’s going on, whenever you down one of those festive pints?

Obviously, you’re getting drunk.

That, unfortunately, was about the limit of our professional expertise… So we decided to put a call in to an expert…

The first thing Dr Bobby Smyth had to say was that it’s a bad idea.

“Avoid it. It’s all risk and no benefit,” is what he actually said. Obviously — no doctor would encourage such behaviour.

One to 2 pints (2 to 4 standard drinks)

Source: Genaro/Flickr

“Not a huge amount,” is happening after your first pint on a night out.

Your reaction time would be impaired, if you tried to drive a car for example. You wouldn’t be quite as aware of what’s around.

One pint later and “you’re noticing a few more of these changes”.

You’re beginning to reach a point where you’re beginning to notice an effect.

It might not be quite so obvious if you’re enjoying the convivial atmosphere of a pub, but if you were to find yourself suddenly in another environment “you’d be very conscious of the impact,” says Smyth.

Four pints (8 standard drinks)

Source: David Woo/Flickr

After four pints of beer, you’re “probably becoming a bit more disinhibited”.

You’d be acting and talking more and more without thinking things through.

The drinker’s mood becomes more affected too.

It can push either way. It can be quite unpredictable. It can make you feel down and sad and you might start fixating on something bad that happened that day or at some other point.

Balance and reaction time also declines further. “You’re more likely to trip and fall over things”.

Six pints (12 standard drinks)

By the six pint mark the drinker is at three to four times the legal driving limit.

Your blood alcohol level is up between 150 and 200 mg. Reaction times are significantly impaired. Vision is beginning to be impaired.

“You’d have a lot less awareness of your environment. You’d be less able to recognise threats and obstacles.”

People often begin to make very poor choices at this level of drunkenness, Smyth says.

Your frontal lobe loses the ability to suppress and vet out stuff.

At an office party, it might be the time of night you decide to tell your boss off. Or on a night out with friends, to settle an old grudge.

Eight pints (16 standard drinks)

Source: Topher I via Flickr

“At this point people are getting much, much sillier,” says Smyth.

Important factors to be aware of in all of this are weight and tolerance, he notes.

The impact of eight pints on a 16 stone man who’s used to drinking heavily every Friday night won’t be the same as the effect on an 8 stone woman.

“For every drink a woman has, her blood alcohol level is moving steadily ahead of the man’s.”

At this level people will be struggling with balance, and start getting sick, says Smyth.

Blacking out is commonplace too after just a few pints, he notes.

What happens is that people’s ability to store memory is impaired. Someone might be chatting to you, but they won’t remember the conversation the next day.

“They might appear to be functioning, but they’ll have no recollection whatsoever of the events.”

10 to 12 pints (20 to 24 standard drinks)

Source: Shutterstock/v.gi

At up to 12 pints, a person’s blood alcohol level is at 300 to 350mg, says Smyth.

At 400mg they just might die.

People generally become unconscious “which is a good thing in a way, because it means they can’t drink anymore”.

After 12 pints “the only people who are awake are people who have a high tolerance of alcohol — large men, generally”.


Who’s up for the ’4 Pubs of Christmas’?

Dr Bobby Smyth is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. 

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