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Approximate amounts of alcohol required by a 70 kg male to produce the corresponding blood ethanol concentration and intoxicating effects of ethanol. One unit of alcohol contains 8g of ethanol.

Adapted with permission from Morgan MY and Ritson B (2003) Alcohol and Health: A Handbook for Students and Medical Practitioners, 4th edn. London: Medical Council on Alcohol.

This sequence of events is particularly relevant in the hospital setting, where patients may present intoxicated with a reduced level of consciousness. It is difficult to determine whether there is coexisting pathology such as an extradural hematoma or overdose of other drugs in addition to ethanol. Although measurement of BEC is helpful (Table 9), it is safest to assume that alcohol is not responsible for any disturbance in consciousness and to search for another cause.

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