You never want to win a contest on a Friday night in the emergency room. The prize rarely comes with a good prognosis. Most stitches required to repair a wound. Oldest nursing home refugee. Number of security guards called to subdue a psychotic outburst. The main event, however, is always the competition for highest blood alcohol content. And on weekends the field grows crowded with serious contenders.
The highest number recorded that night was 483. At levels above four hundred, the brainstem usually throws its hands in the air and gives up, leading to a loss of respiratory function, coma, and rapidly approaching death. This threshold applies to most people who land in the ER with alcohol poisoning, like keg-standing frat boys or bored housewives who go a bit overboard with their mid-afternoon martinis and Vicodin. But for guys who make serious drinking a lifelong occupation, the ones whose hearts don't so much pump blood as sluggishly marinate in it, such stratospheric quantities of liquor in the blood can be compatible with life.
These men are the ER doctors, pickled and stewed but still on their feet, diagnosing and treating those who try to reach their heights but fail every time. In the world of competitive drinking, they are unmatched, reaching blood alcohol levels that would drop a horse. How do they achieve such numbers?
Find out tonight, as 20/20 investigates.
Opening: Benwah.....Continuation: Mignon