Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Effects of Drinking Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most popularly-consumed depressants, a type of drug that can impact the brain and nervous system.

Most alcoholic drinks contain an ingredient called ethyl alcohol, which can also be found in mouthwash and household cleaning products.

Since the liver is usually a superstar when it comes to processing alcohol, it normally breaks it down by the next day (or tries to, which is where hangovers come in). But if someone drinks too much or too quickly in a short amount of time, the liver might not be able to keep up.

When the liver can’t keep up with the rate at which someone’s body is consuming alcohol, it may result in alcohol poisoning.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning starts when parts of the brain start to shut down due to too much alcohol in the blood. Basically, it’s like an overdose but with alcohol; it’s probably one of the most severe consequences of drinking a lot quickly, since poisoning could possibly lead to a coma or death if not handled properly. 

  • Consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time
  • Can also occur when people drink household product with alcohol
  • Too much alcohol in the blood, causes parts of your brain to shutdown
  • Like an overdose but with alcohol
  • Requires immediate attention
  • Risk of getting poisoning has to do with the same factors as getting drunk

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

If you’re with friends or family and notice any of the signs below, they may be experiencing alcohol poisoning. If you see any combination of these effects, it’s important to take immediate action to treat the poisoning to avoid the risk of it worsening.

  • Vomiting
  • Choking
  • Weak gag reflex
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Slow responses
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Damp or clammy skin
  • Blue or pale skin hue
  • Low body temperature
  • Drowsiness
  • Passing out, not waking up

 

What To Do Next

Since these symptoms can be severe, it’s important to call 911 or your local hospital immediately if you notice someone suffering from alcohol poisoning. While you wait, here are some ways to help an individual with the above effects:

  • Find out their information to give to the hospital
  • Don’t leave their side
  • Keep them awake and sitting if possible
  • Have them sip water
  • If passed out, lay them on their side
  • Cover them in a blanket

And here’s what not to do if someone you know has alcohol poisoning:

  • Do not give them caffeine
  • Don’t let them drink more alcohol
  • Don’t lay them on their back
  • Don’t make them walk
  • Don’t give them a shower

It’s important for the hospital to observe and care for the patient in their current state. Doing anything besides supervising and lightly aiding them might lead to adverse effects.

Once at the hospital, a doctor will give the patient fluids, increase their oxygen levels, and flush their stomach. After they’ve been monitored for several hours, they should be all set to go home and complete their recovery.

Preventing Alcohol Poisoning

Clearly, the best way to prevent alcohol poisoning from happening in the first place is by drinking in moderation. However, it’s understandable to want to enjoy a couple of drinks during a night out. Here are a few ways to decrease your risk of getting alcohol poisoning:

  • Have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink
  • Don’t mix alcohol with prescription drugs
  • Eat before starting to drink
  • Avoid funnels or beer bongs

Fighting Alcohol Abuse

While we wish we could prevent alcohol poisoning every time, that’s unfortunately not always the case. Some individuals may end up getting carried away and developing an alcohol dependence or abuse problem.

After getting treatment for alcohol poisoning, patients should take time to reconsider their drinking habits and take caution to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

If you know someone who has developed an issue with addiction after experiencing alcohol poisoning, consult a medical professional as soon as possible. Next best steps may include group therapy and inpatient or outpatient treatment.

 

To learn more about alcohol abuse treatment at Steps to Recovery,  call 866-488-8349.

 

Sources

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-poisoning-overview#1

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20354386