How much can alcoholics really drink?

Now I think I drink too much at times, but the most I’ve ever drunk in one day is probably equivalent to half a bottle of spirits, or 375 ml. This level, however, will definitely cause me to drive the bus and leave me with a soul-crushing hangover the following day. More realistically, anything more than 4 standard drinks or so leaves me feeling poorly. I’m a lightweight.

But in the movie The Lost Weekend, the Ray Milland character drinks two quarts of rye whisky in one night. Two quarts is 1.892 l. Plus he has about 10 drinks at the bar, so it was as if he filled up a 2-liter Coke bottle with (presumably) 40% alcohol and drank it in one night. That’s 67 30 ml/40% ABV standard drinks, btw.

Is that even possible?

I know that alcoholism involves a lot more factors than just volume, but how much do the really heavy-duty, how-do-they-do-it alkies drink?

Ex-alcoholic speaking: I drank 1 U.S. quart vodka a day. My weight is 50 kilos [110lbs].

The amount Ray Milland was drinking is enough to give you an acute alcohol poisoning, imho.
Maybe he ate much, in between? :wink:
Oh: Don’t try this at home.

I have a friend whom we shall call Mark -coz that’s his name, and he’s quite upfront about his fondness for a wee dram or two.

Mark has come over to my house (though doesn’t anymore because I got sick of some of his drunken antics such as nearly burning the place down) and we’d drink together. This involved me drinking to levels that are high for me. I’d have about twelve beers and maybe a glass of scotch (a biggish one). Hangover material. However, I’d be sober when we started in the evening. Mark would turn up drunk, and would have started at about lunchtime, or maybe in the morning. He would match me drink for drink, and when I went to bed at about 1am, I’d hear him cracking the tops off cans of beer. I’d wake up to get breakfast the next morning, and Mark would be passed out on the sofa. My movements about the house would wake him up, and he’d have three or four breakfast beers to keep him going until the pub opened.

Even when I was about twenty, I could never doo the drinking-all-day-and-all-night thing. I needed to sleep. Some people achieved it by taking speed-type drugs, which I never did. But others, like Mark, can just somehow do it naturally. He’s about 38 years old, and a classic weak-eyed, slurring, ruddy cheeked alcoholic. Strange thing is, he has to fend the hordes of elegant, intelligent women off with a stick. Bastard. :smiley:

The stories of people drinking litres of spirits a day are true. Some do it every day for years. It kills some of them. Others are lucky. It’s similar to cigarettes in that regard.

Uh, I’ve actually drank more in one evening than that. Of course, I didn’t do that the first time I ever got drunk, but I worked up to that level after years of practice. Mind you, I was not functioning very well when I did that (not that I remember much of that evening), but I did it. Also felt like shit the next morning, and I don’t normally get hang overs.

Very minor contribution to the op but I once saw an old poster (c. 1900?) on sale in Paris that read something like:

“Beware! If you drink more than 4 litres of wine per day, alcoholism may be close!”

That’s like five bottles.

You drank more than two liters of booze? How would that work?

That would be close to 2 liters of 40% ABV booze. Youch.

Well, I don’t remember the details, but it was an hours long drinking session with me consuming at least one bottle of Jack Daniels, part of another bottle of some other kind of hard liquor, at least half of a 12 pack of beer, and maybe more.

Wrong time to get into this, but alcoholics build up at tolerance similar to all addicts. I personally would be shy to tell you how much I can consume with no/or little morning effect cas you would think I was bragging. Ever see Leaving Los Vegas with Nicholas Cage? As Frank Sinatra said “ I feel sorry for people that do not drink, cas when they wake up in the morning that is the best they will feel all day.” Or some shit like that. It may be a genetic thing, but some people can/or have to drink more than others if they dink at all.

I do not drink HARD booze much any more, but in the day, I would drink 5 to 10 beers with 5 to 10 shots of Jack a night (3-6 hours).

It did not kill me, however it did break up some relationships and dent the car.

Ok, so we know now that your tolerance goes up when you drink more. I assume the metabolic pathway alcohol goes through ends up getting more efficient with continued use. I understand that it involves two enzymes, and that they come from the liver, correct?

So how high can it go? Does some people’s tolerance never get too high? If you’re a real dedicated, sloppy, sad sack alcoholic, how much do you drink in a day? I used to work at a grocery store, and a man would come in fairly frequently, smelling of vomit and alcohol, and buy four fifths of vodka, although I don’t really know how often he did it. Obviously some people learn to put that much away in one night. So how high can you go?

It’d be like training for a marathon, only you’re sitting still, and you smell worse.

Strangely, I feel worse if I drink the same amount over a longer period. So, if I were to have a couple of beers at 10am, another two with lunch, another in the afternoon, one more and a bottle of wine with dinner, maybe a few more in the evening, there are times over the course of that day I’d feel mellow, but I would in no way be ripsnortingly drunk (ie, an observer might not notice anything). However, I can guarantee I’d feel worse the next morning than I would have if I’d consumed the same amount over one evening session, and gotten plastered.


It depends on your weight and gender. For me it was a bottle of vodka a day.
That was: Sleeping - drinking, sleeping - drinking. Until it was time to stagger to the store to get a fresh bottle.

Mind: This was in my last 6 months of alcoholism. Before that, I could function reasonably well.

Johnny Depp (and Benicio Del Toro (sp?) bolding mine)

I have developed a tolerance for roughly one full (75 cl) bottle of whiskey (I believe that is a ‘quart’, a term I don’t think we have in the UK) meaning I can drink that much a night and still function and seem to be sober for work the next day.
Having said that I have managed to lose some of my dependency on alcohol so that I can quite easily not drink at all indefinately. It means I don’t get much sleep, but I probably don’t need much these days.

Nope. Leaving Las Vegas with Nicholas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.

No, you’re thinking of Fear and Loating in Las Vegas. Leaving Las Vegas stars Nicolas “no ‘h’” Cage as a man who drinks himself to death.

Several years ago I consumed the better part of a fifth (750 ml) of rum in one evening, but two liters would be out of the question. Maybe a very large man with a very efficient liver could accomplish it, but I’d tend to discount this as a Hollywood exaggeration.

I have been able to get a 750 ml down in a night during the Animal House like college days.

I have a friend that has been at the bottle since the early 80’s. I have watched him down a 750 of 80 proof in about one hour and he was functioning quite well. He was pissed when he could not find his bottle. Actually got pissed at me when I told him I trashed it. I had to swear to him that I did it because it was empty.

I bet he could do 2 l in one day. In fact if you show up with the drink he would be happy to entertain you for the night.

Chronic use of alcohol is thought to increases the number calcium channels in receptors to acheive neuroadaptive homeostasis. The brain learns to cope with the new chemical environment and thus not feel the depressant effects as well.

But wouldnt the enzymes in the liver become less effective at metabolising the ethanol due to impared liver function?

So an alcoholic would be less drunk on the same amount of alcohol, but would be less quick at getting rid of it. Maybe.

Antechinus, all the anecdotal evidence I’ve ever heard is backed up by what I’ve seen with my own eyes in the case of people like my friend Mark whom I discussed earlier in the thread. This is, on the rare occasion Mark was sober when we’d start drinking together, he would be noticeably affected by alcohol after only two or three drinks, and I wouldn’t. but then he’d seem to stay at that same apparent level for the rest of the night.

My layman’s theory is that he’d look drunk to me because of his nervous, jittery sober self - he’d now be relaxed, talkative and expansive, so I’d notice the difference. Later on, the fact that he is such a high functioning alcoholic would kick in, and he’d appear to stay at the same level as I apparently overtook him and became messy.

Not quite. 19th century wine (especially the cheap stuff your average Parisian labourer would drink) was closer to 10% (or even lower). So four litres of wine would equal about one litre of booze.

Still quite a lot though.

My fiance who is a recovering alcoholic would drink 1/2 a bottle of rum or vodka before his friends arrived and then share another 2 bottles between 3 of them. That was before going out. He would go on 3 day benders where he would not eat or sleep, just drink constantly (and be functioning).

He would then come to my house to sleep it off (this was before we were going out, just friends). It was not pretty, but apart from being broke and beggin us for money for drink, he acted pretty much like he does now when he goes out and doesn’t drink at all. Of course, he didn’t have a job or a girlfriend then and his friends kinda disowned him, but then he went to rehab and now he has all of the above plus a beautiful 6 month old baby girl :smiley: