With contributions from leading international academics across the biological sciences, this handbook takes a critical look at the key contemporary issues and debates in the field. The 31 chapters are divided into four parts: Part I Determination of Substance Misuse Part II PK and PD in Relation to Patterns of Use Part III Detection and Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Use Part IV Controversies and New Approaches This Handbook is an excellent reference text for the growing number of academics, students, scientists and practitioners in the drug and alcohol studies community, and will be a vital resource to the allied professions involved in work-place drug testing, clinical toxicology, and forensic science.

Chapter 4: Alcohol: Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Alcohol: Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Alcohol: Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics
Matthew GoldinE Jane Marshall


Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is determined by the rate at which alcohol is absorbed, distributed, metabolised and excreted.


Alcohol is a small highly water soluble, but poorly lipid soluble molecule. However, like water, it has hydrophilic and lipophilic properties, and can thus pass easily into body fluids and across membranes into cells by simple passive diffusion (Feldman, Meyer and Quenzer, 1997; Cederbaum, 2012). Following oral ingestion alcohol is almost completely absorbed, and peak blood concentration is reached after 30–60 minutes. Absorption primarily occurs in the small intestine (80%), where absorption is rapid. A smaller proportion (20%) can also be absorbed, relatively slowly, from the stomach (Brick, 2004).

A number of factors are involved in the absorption ...

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