Signs of Alcohol Poisoning: A Guide for Those Wanting to Help

Drinking alcohol can be fun, but if not done in moderation it can quickly turn deadly. Alcohol poisoning is no joke and there is definitely a point in time when being too drunk becomes dangerous.

Many people don’t realize how easy it is to get alcohol poisoning since it’s not always easy to recognize the signs. This may seem shocking but on average six people die per day from this cause, with the majority of them being between the ages of 35-64.

Many adults believe they know the proper way to handle alcohol poisoning if it happens to someone around them but many incorrect methods can actually make the situation worse.

If you or someone you know has crossed the line on safe drinking there are things you can do to help. Keep reading to learn the in’s and out’s about alcohol poisoning and what steps you can take.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose is a serious condition that is the result of consuming too much alcohol in a short period of time. The signs of this condition can vary from person to person. And depending on how much alcohol was consumed it can also vary in severity with symptoms ranging from disorientation to death.

Alcohol poisoning is often caused by binge drinking or drinking more than four drinks in two hours. If you drink too much too quickly, your liver won’t be able to process your drinks at the rate you are putting them in your body. Which can make you think you are less drunk than you actually are since all the alcohol hasn’t yet entered your bloodstream.

This can lead to drinking to the point that the alcohol reaches toxic levels in your body thus poisoning you. The amount of alcohol needed to cause this toxic reaction will vary from person to person depending on factors like age and weight. But on average it takes the liver a whole hour to metabolize a single ounce of alcohol.

Once you consume more alcohol than this your blood alcohol concentration rises and can reach the point where your body can no longer metabolize it. After this occurs the liver shuts down along with many other systems in the body.

Recognizing Alcohol Poisoning

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if someone is experiencing an overdose of alcohol. We don’t always know exactly how much the people around us are consuming or how quickly they are doing it.

These symptoms of alcohol poisoning include things you’ve probably experienced yourself while drinking. Just because you may have experienced some of these things doesn’t mean that these symptoms aren’t serious and can’t be fatal.

The basic signs of being drunk such as stumbling and slurred speech indicate that a person is already at risk and should stop drinking. However many people ignore these cues and will continue to drink or even encourage friends to keep drinking when they are visibly intoxicated.

This is extremely dangerous to an individual’s health and even his or her life. Pay attention to these signs as they are something to take seriously.

1. Confusion Or Disorientation

Alcohol poisoning slows down your brains’ ability to function. This is what causes symptoms like slurred speech, slow reaction times, and lack of coordination.

If someone has consumed enough alcohol that they are having difficulty speaking or walking they are at risk of an overdose.

2. Trouble Staying Conscious

This is one of the most easily recognizable signs of alcohol poisoning. If you see someone who is having a hard time staying awake or is completely unconscious and won’t wake up they probably need to be treated by a medical practitioner.

Do not leave someone unattended in this state as it is a clear indication they have alcohol poisoning

3. Changes In Breathing

Alcohol poisoning can make it difficult for a person to breathe. If you notice that someone’s breathing is becoming shallow or slow, you need to call 911.

Slow breathing is marked as eight or fewer breaths per minute. This is especially something to pay attention to if the person experiencing symptoms is unconscious.

4. Vomiting

Vomiting is your body’s self-defense reaction to being poisoned by alcohol. This can be extremely dangerous if the person is passed out because it can lead to them choking on their own vomit.

5. Change In Body Temperature

Another common sign of alcohol poisoning is clammy or pale skin. If you see that someone’s skin is blotchy and it feels cold this can also indicate that they have consumed too much.

Low body temperature can lead to issues with your heart and other organs that if left untreated can lead to death.

How You Can Help

If you notice that someone is experiencing these symptoms it’s important to immediately call 911. Even if the person is conscious, there is a likely chance that there is more alcohol in their stomach waiting to be processed, which will only increase the alcohol poisoning.

Stay with this person to make sure that they don’t accidentally harm themselves. After you call 911 you can continue to help by keeping the person awake and sitting.

If they are able and corporative, try to get them to slowly drink water. Grabbing a blanket for them can also help if they are experiencing feeling cold.

Common things that people mistake as being helpful are putting the individual in a cold shower or trying to just let them “sleep it off”. Cold showers may increase the risk for hypothermia if their body temperature is already dropping. And simply telling them to sleep it off doesn’t take into account they may have more alcohol still left in their stomach.

Prevention Is the Best Cure

We’ve all heard the old adage that ‘prevention is the best cure’ and in this case, it couldn’t be truer. Alcohol poisoning is not fun to experience or to watch some go through. And the only real way to avoid this is by drinking responsibly.

Pace yourself and don’t give in to peer pressure if others are encouraging you to drink. If you think that you or someone you love may have a binge drinking problem, contact us today to get some help.


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