Do Asian people really get drunk faster than Westerners?

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13 December
11:51
December
2016

No. It’s a myth. Nobody gets drunk faster than anyone else. However, Japanese and Chinese people, rather than Asian people do possess a gene that means that they have more difficulty breaking down alcohol than Westerners. What happens is they get a flushing reaction, and if they continue to drink they will become unwell. 

The drug Antabuse, which is sometimes used in alcohol treatment, works on the same principle. If you drink after taking this drug you will be sick and nauseous – the drug stops the body from breaking down the alcohol. The gene that Japanese and Chinese people possess has a similar effect. So when they drink they become unwell quicker. They’re not drunk, or they don’t become drunk quicker, but they become unwell quicker. So typically they become sick quicker than you or I would. 

"The gene that Japanese and Chinese people possess has a similar effect. So when they drink they become unwell quicker. They’re not drunk, or they don’t become drunk quicker, but they become unwell quicker."

Some Japanese and Chinese people can carry on drinking like that, but it does make a lot of people reluctant to drink. In the sense that part of being drunk is getting ill than yes, they might appear to be intoxicated faster but that’s because they’re becoming unwell. They’re not becoming intoxicated as such, just unwell. The idea that some people get drunk quicker than others is a fallacy. 

Everyone gets drunk at the same rate. There’s no significant change across races. Of course alcohol is one of the substances that the body and brain adapts to as an individual consumes more of it. This is called developing tolerance. Another way of considering this is that body resists alcohol and is one of the reasons why people who do not drink alcohol become drunk quicker than those who do. However this is not the sole explanation. The concept of expectancy and the context in which the drinking takes place are as important if not more so.

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