Alcohol Poisoning — What It Is and How To Handle It

Did you know that a total of around 2,200 Americans die from alcohol poisoning each year? This is a striking number — one that needs to be paid attention to — but unfortunately, one that isn’t always talked about.

As we know, the consumption of alcohol in the United States is legal at the age of 21 and beyond. Alcohol is typically available in restaurants, bars, liquor stores and in some states, even the grocery stores. While alcohol is meant to be regulated to be consumed by people of age, those who are under-age sometimes get a hold of it, due to It’s easy accessibility.

Alcohol Poisoning — What It Is and How To Handle It

Although alcohol is a legal substance, it is still a substance. It can be misused and abused, just like any other type of drug, and it can have harmful effects and consequences.

Alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone, at any age, and is very dangerous. What does alcohol poisoning look like? Keep reading below to learn more.

When Does Alcohol Poisoning Occur?

Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes too much alcohol, which floods the bloodstream and begins to affect areas of the brain that control vital physical functions like breathing, heart rate, and temperature.

A photo shows blurred vision that comes with being drunk or having alcohol poisoning.

When a person consumes an alcoholic beverage, in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can occur. In fact, a human body’s liver can only process one serving of alcohol per hour, with one serving being: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as tequila, vodka, whiskey, etc.

Since the body can only process one serving of alcohol per hour, it is slower, which means that the number of drinks a person has consumed may not be completely in the bloodstream when the person begins to show symptoms of extreme alcohol intoxication or poisoning.

What Are The Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?

A man holds a bottle of alcohol while clearly suffering from alcohol poisoning.

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning are unpleasant and dangerous. It can lead to severe symptoms such as:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Passing out (unconsciousness) and can’t be awakened

While these symptoms can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, they are also incredibly dangerous. In some cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to death. Alcohol poisoning, in the U.S., is common in those who binge drink (i.e. consume large amounts of alcohol, in a short period of time, on a regular basis.)

What Do You Do If Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?

It is important to realize that alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know has the symptoms of alcohol poisoning (even if they do not have every symptom listed above) it is imperative that you seek medical attention.

Alcohol Poisoning - What to do about it. A photo of an emergency room at a hospital.

According to the MAYO Clinic, here are the steps you should take if someone has alcohol poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Never assume the person will sleep off alcohol poisoning.
  • Be prepared to provide information. If you know, be sure to tell hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when.
  • Don’t leave an unconscious person alone. Because alcohol poisoning affects the way the gag reflex works, someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit and not be able to breathe. While waiting for help, don’t try to make the person vomit because he or she could choke.
  • Help a person who is vomiting. Try to keep him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, make sure to turn his or her head to the side — this helps prevent choking. Try to keep the person awake to prevent loss of consciousness.

As seen here, we know that alcohol poisoning is nothing to joke about. We hope that this article provided you with helpful, insightful information to better help you or someone you know, in case of alcohol poisoning.

Are you or a loved one suffering from alcoholism? At 12 South Recovery, we aim to help restore balance to every area of life – treating the mind, body and spirit so our clients are able to find lasting recovery from alcohol addiction and other co-occurring disorders.

Contact 12 South Recovery at 866-839-6876 today.

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