With all the colorful marketing and social acceptability surrounding alcohol, we tend to forget it is an addictive and dangerous drug. And, like any drug, alcohol can cause an overdose if people drink more than their bodies can process. Alcohol poisoning is a severe, potentially fatal consequence of drinking too much too quickly.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
The warning signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Blue-tinged or pale skin
- Low body temperature
- Unconsciousness and unresponsiveness
Call 911 for immediate medical care if you notice any of these symptoms. Alcohol poisoning is an emergency, and a victim who loses consciousness and does not wake up might die without attention.
How to Respond to an Alcohol Overdose
If you have any reason to suspect someone has overdosed on alcohol, it’s not safe to assume they will sleep it off and feel better in the morning. Call emergency responders, and be sure to tell them how much and what kind of alcohol the person drank.
Never leave an unconscious alcohol poisoning victim alone. Because an alcohol overdose affects the natural gag reflex, they might inhale vomit, causing them to asphyxiate. Try to keep them awake, aware and sitting up. If the person tips over, move them into the recovery position to prevent choking.
It can be tricky to judge whether someone is intoxicated enough to need medical intervention – especially if you have also been drinking – but it’s best to err on the side of caution. If you don’t act quickly, your friend or loved one can experience grave consequences, including seizures, cardiac arrest, brain damage and even death.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Poisoning
Binge drinking is a leading cause of alcohol overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define binge drinking as any alcohol use that brings your blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher. Men typically reach this BAC after consuming five drinks within two hours, while women attain that level by having four alcoholic beverages in the same period.
If you habitually use alcohol to cope with life’s challenges and frequently drink to excess, you could put yourself at a higher risk of experiencing alcohol poisoning. Other possible consequences of binge drinking include blackouts, accidents, reckless behavior, domestic violence and alcohol addiction.
Ask for Help When You Need It
While it may be challenging for you to admit you have a problem you cannot solve by yourself, an alcohol overdose could be a much-needed wake-up call in starting you on the path to healing.
At Hemet Valley Recovery and Sage Retreat, we offer a complete continuum of care in a hospital-grade setting. If you regularly do irresponsible things, hurt yourself and others or experience memory loss because you drink too much, we can help you. Contact us today to learn about our accredited addiction programming for older adults, young adults, families and active-duty military service members.