View Full Version : Is drinking a fifth of alcohol in one day dangerous?

03-20-2004, 01:31 PM
Per this note in Modern Drunkard re accomplishment number 3. Other than the obvious dangers of drinking and driving etc., would it be physically hazardous (ie just the physical effects of alcohol consumption by itself) for a light social drinking, non-alcoholic, average sized adult, to drink a fifth of spirits in a single afternoon to evening?

Modern Drunkard's 40 things every drunkard should do before he dies (http://www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com/issues/01-04/01-04-40-things.htm)

3. Drink a fifth of hard liquor, by yourself, in one day.
For some this is a typical evening, the rest will have to try harder. Unplug the phone, donít answer the door and get down with your bad self. Stock up on ice, gather mixers if you need them, crack the seal and, inch by inch, take that proud bottle down. Take your own sweet time. Near the bottom you will discover a rich inner landscape you thought a barren desert. Explore it

Futile Gesture
03-20-2004, 01:34 PM
A fifth of what?

No, not a pedantic question, I don't know what it means.

03-20-2004, 01:38 PM
What's a fifth? :confused:

03-20-2004, 01:38 PM
A fifth of hard liquor. As in a fifth of a gallon, or 750ml, of 80-100 proof distilled spirits.

I'd say that yes, it can be dangerous, espcially if you are an inexperienced drinker, and chug the whole thing at once.

I've downed a fifth or more over several hours on many an occasion with no noticable adverse effects, save for a nasty hangover.

03-20-2004, 01:41 PM
I believe it is a fifth of a gallon, or around 750 mls. I could be wrong.

For most people, drinking a fifth could lead to alcohol poisoning, depending on the rate of consumption, tolerance, body size, etc. This can be life threatening.

If you are not most people, and your tolerance is of the level that drinking a fifth is no big deal, then you probably have other issues.

03-20-2004, 02:06 PM
i would say drinking a fifth is dangerous. i drank a fifth of jack daniel's in high school in one night, that was the only time i've ever blacked out, and i think blacking out is bad the last time i heard.......(i also awoke from my blackout on the toilet instead of peeing my pants.......good job subconsious mind)

03-20-2004, 05:14 PM
In one day?

Are we talking a night, eight hours, sixteen hours, or twenty-four hours?

Qadgop the Mercotan
03-20-2004, 05:24 PM
Definitely dangerous. For someone unaccustomed to alcohol, it has been fatal. Especially since generally it's not consumed over 24 hours, but more likely over a much shorter time period, as judgement gets more and more clouded. It's not uncommon to have people die on their 21st birthday, when they celebrate their "legal status" by trying the above feat. I was present at the (failed) resuscitation attempts at more than a few of these cases over the years.

For chronic alcohol consumers, the risk of acute death is reduced somewhat, but still present. This is because not only are the chronic drinkers more tolerant of elevated blood alcohol levels, but their liver enzyme systems are induced to detox the alcohol just a bit faster than the occasional drinker. Even so, impaired consciousness combined with the vomit reflex often results in aspiration, which can lead to Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and a long time in the local ICU, if not the morgue.

The chronic problems with regularly consuming a 5th of EtOH are also well documented.


03-20-2004, 06:13 PM
Definitely not for amateurs.

Dylan Thomas (a professional drinker - and poet BTW) died after drinking a fifth of whiskey - He boasted "I've had 18 straight whiskies, I think that's the record."

I can't find the cite but IIRC the autopsy report said he died of "an alcoholic insult to the brain." (he died "of acute alcoholic encephalopathy damage to the brain by alcohol" cite (http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/dylanthomas/biography/pages/death.shtml) which in layman's terms is an alcoholic insult to the brain.)

03-21-2004, 12:50 AM
Hmmm...interesting to know. I've done this a couple of times with Bushmill's over a period of about five or six hours without blacking out and still retaining enough hand-eye coordination to write a grammatically and spelling perfect email (as evidenced by a copy being saved to my Sent folder.) Most I've done is 30 shots of vodka in 12 hours, eating constantly throughout. No vomiting, felt fine in the morning. I'm 185, 5'11", for the record, and drink about twice a week.

It's odd, because I've puked after three beers before, and have gotten buzzed off one, depending on my food intake earlier in the day. But after reading Qadgop's warnings, I think I'll reconsider this in the future.

03-21-2004, 08:39 AM
QtM makes a good point. I'd better stick to milk, or maybe chocolate milk for a special taste treat! (http://www.thesneeze.com/)

03-21-2004, 09:24 AM
Back in my younger days (20-24) I could put down a fifth of Jack Daniels in an evening. I probably did this 10 or 15 teams.

Keep in mind that I had quite a tolerence built to alcohol and that I was much bigger than your average Joe (was then about 6'3" 275#s) -- A fifth of JD in an evening would turn me into a borderline blackout, crazy stupid drunk.

These days I'm very sure I couldn't do it anymore, nor would I want to.

gluteus maximus
03-21-2004, 11:56 AM
Back on New Year's Eve, 1983, I put away a fifth of Jameson in a little under a half an hour (I am NOT bragging.) because I "wanted to stop thinking". :rolleyes:

It worked. Am I wishing I hadn't posted this? Not yet...

For approximately 15 to 20 hours, I guess, I stopped thinking.

Luckily, I didn't die. Had a three-day hangover from Hell, though. Never did that again.

03-21-2004, 12:38 PM
Ask George Clooney. It's probably a daily habit for him.

03-21-2004, 12:46 PM
For approximately 15 to 20 hours,
Word. I put down ALMOST a full fifth of 100 proof Southern Comfort, and was still kinda drunk going to class the next morning. I'm a big guy, but I don't consider myself a real big drinker though.

My guess would be it would not be any more dangerous than other forms a binge drinking.

03-21-2004, 11:09 PM
So a fifth is only 750ml? AKA a 26er?

Geez.... I polished off a 26er in about 6 hours on my third time drinking. I've taken down over half of one in 15 minutes.

Guess I'm up to about 20 on that list.

03-22-2004, 02:01 AM
I'm with Futile: a fifth of what?

A buddy of mine drinks a fifth of Yukon Jack every single day, with no adverse affects, or even the appearance of intoxication. I wouldn't be able to do the same.

R. P. McMurphy
03-22-2004, 07:32 AM
Before attempting the stunt you should have the foresight to clean and disinfect your toilet. Most likely, before the fifth is finished, or shortly thereafter (unless you have developed a high tolerance), you will find your head inside the bowl.

03-22-2004, 07:49 AM
Astro, you said you're a social drinker, but who's to say exactly what that entails for the individual drinker. You know enough about what you drink, however often, and how it effects you. This might help.

1 ounce of 80 proof alcohol is roughly equivilant to a 12 ounce beer or a 6 oz glass of wine. A fifth is, if memory serves, 28 ounces, could be 32 ounces, let's call it 30 ounces. In what amount of time could you drink 30 beers? or 30 glasses of wine? Keep in mind that a beer takes longer to drink (for most of us) than a Jack and Coke would. So if you can polish off a 30 pack in 10 hours and be OK, than you can probably handle a fifth as well--if you pace yourself and distribute the bottle over the same 10 hours.

I wouldn't suggest it though, especially if you're not a big drinker. And I certainly wouldn't do it alone, as suggested. If something does go wrong, you'll want someone to roll you over before you're unconsious choking on your own vomit.

03-22-2004, 04:04 PM
I regularly drink a fifth of whiskey (JD or Paddy etc.) or vodka (smirnoff) before going out for the night. I can handle it grand but i'm a very big guy over 300lbs methinks. Sometimes i'm relatively sober after a bottle, sometimes i'm bananas drunk depends on what i've eaten, where i am etc. I have on occasion drunk 2 fifths of whiskey or vodka but that tends to either put me into a very deep sleep or make me go crazy.