Every day, six Americans die from alcohol poisoning. While binge drinking might elicit images of college students partying way too hard on spring break, these deaths are actually highest among middle-aged men.
Because drinking is considered such a socially acceptable thing to do, some people don’t realize just how serious the risks of drinking too much are. Not only can it impair your judgment and lead you to do things like getting behind the wheel of a car and putting yourself and others at risk, drinking too much can actually kill you in one event.
Do you need to learn more about alcohol poisoning so you can be sure to avoid it in the future?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.
What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Drinking alcohol is quite popular because of its relaxing effect and its ability to add to social experiences. However, when a person drinks a lot of alcohol, even only one time, it can lead to very serious health issues and complications.
Alcohol poisoning, also referred to as an alcohol overdose, is one of the negative consequences of drinking too much alcohol. This occurs when someone drinks too much in one period of time.
If someone that you know is exhibiting the symptoms of alcohol overdose, call 911 right away.
Can Alcohol Poisoning Kill You?
Alcohol poisoning can lead to a coma and death in certain circumstances. For this reason, it’s essential to call 911 if someone you know is experiencing alcohol poisoning.
Causes of Alcohol Poisoning: How Alcohol Poisoning Develops
Your liver is where your body metabolizes alcohol. However, there is a limit to how much alcohol your body can process at one time. Everyone is different, which means that different individuals will process alcohol at different speeds.
As a general rule of thumb, though, every hour the body can process 1 ounce of alcohol. If a person drinks more alcohol than their body is able to break down, it means that the alcohol states in their bloodstream and raises their BAC. The more they drink, the higher their BAC becomes.
The higher the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream, the more impact it is having on the various systems of the body. The individual continues to get increasingly impaired with every additional drink they have.
A person might at first experience mild feelings of euphoria and warmth and over time their moods become more pronounced and their inhibitions are lowered. Certain functions become increasingly impaired, including:
- Decision making
- Reaction time
Someone who continues to drink faster than their body can process alcohol will then have a hard time functioning at all, even walking just a few steps. This is often also when people start to become nauseous and ill. At this point, it is common for people to no longer be aware of what they are doing and “blackout.”
At a certain point, the body simply cannot handle how much alcohol is present in the bloodstream. It is common for people to pass out in these instances and lose consciousness. The issue here is that they may continue to vomit as their body is still processing the alcohol, and vomiting while unconscious can lead a person to choke and even die.
The body can start to shut down if a person has had too much alcohol to drink. This can lead people to go into a coma which can cause permanent brain damage. A number of conditions at this point can lead to death, including dehydration and cardiac arrest.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
The effects of alcohol poisoning have noticeable symptoms. Some of these include:
- Mental state changes, including confusion
- Hypothermia or a decrease in body temperature
- Blue or pale skin
- Passing out (unconsciousness)
Some of the complications that can occur when you drink faster than your body can process alcohol include:
- Central nervous system depression that leads to slowing or stopping breathing, gag reflex, and heart rate
- Seizures resulting from low blood sugar
- Cardiac arrest after hypothermia
If someone you know is exhibiting any of these symptoms, don’t leave them alone. If they can’t be woken up or their breathing is slower than eight breaths every minute you should call 911.
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, roll them onto their side so that they won’t choke if they vomit or inhale vomit into their lungs. Stay with a person that is unconscious or exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning until medical help shows up.
Are you wondering how alcohol changes your appearance? Check out our article on the topic here.
How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning is a condition that is absolutely and completely preventable, unlike most other health conditions. If you follow these steps, it can help you decrease your risk of an alcohol overdose:
- Drink slowly
- Drink in moderation
- Stay hydrated
- Educate your friends and family (particularly teens) about alcohol overdose or poisoning
- Keep alcohol products stored in a place that is safely out of reach of children
Understanding the risk factors can also help people learn whether or not they are more or less at risk for having an alcohol overdose. Things like age, body size, gender, tolerance, binge drinking, and drug use can all impact the likelihood that a person will get alcohol poisoning.
Is It Time For You to Get Help?
If you have suffered from alcohol poisoning, there’s a good chance it wasn’t just an isolated incident. If you are regularly drinking so much that it’s making you ill, it’s possible that you have a substance abuse problem with alcohol. If alcohol is increasingly the most important thing in your life and it’s affecting your relationships, your job, your school, and your ability to fulfill daily responsibilities, it might be time to get some help.
Don’t worry, if you need help, we’re here! Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive wellness center.