If you’ve struggled with alcohol abuse, then you know that drinking too much can cause unpleasant symptoms, such as vomiting and memory loss. Pushing the limits on drinking with overconsumption or binge drinking can lead to acute alcohol intoxication, also known as alcohol poisoning or an alcohol overdose. This is a life-threatening situation that may kill someone unless they receive the right care.

At Serene Beginnings, we want to make sure that you understand alcohol poisoning symptoms so you know how to prevent it and when to call for help.

What Is Acute Alcohol Intoxication?

This is a condition directly associated with drinking too much alcohol in a short amount of time. It can be very detrimental to your health, resulting in severe and even life-threatening side effects.

An alcohol overdose can impact:

  • Breathing
  • Body temperature
  • Gag reflex
  • Heart rate

Signs of severe intoxication include passing out, becoming comatose, having seizures or even dying without treatment. In addition, profuse vomiting commonly occurs as the body attempts to lower the amount of alcohol to a safer level.

Who Is at Risk of Alcohol Poisoning?

Any person who drinks too much, too quickly is at risk. The condition can also result from accidentally or purposely drinking household items containing alcohol, such as vanilla extract or mouthwash.

Binge drinkers are particularly high-risk. “Chugging” alcohol can easily result in poisoning, as the body and brain don’t have enough time to process the rapid intake, causing intoxication at a dangerous and unpredictable speed.

Other alcohol poisoning risk factors include:

  • Your overall health
  • Combining drugs and alcohol
  • The total percentage of alcohol in your drinks (alcohol by volume, ABV)
  • Your weight and size
  • Your age
  • Whether you’ve eaten recently
  • Your tolerance level
  • The rate at which you’ve consumed alcohol

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

People present different signs of poisoning, but some of the most common are:

  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Unconsciousness with an inability to be awakened
  • Hypothermia
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Irregular breathing

If you are with someone who’s showing any of these signs of toxicity, it is important to understand that they could be at risk of going into a coma or dying. They don’t need to have all the symptoms to require urgent medical care.

Those who have passed out and who can’t be awakened are at the highest risk of death, so it’s essential to get them to a hospital as quickly as possible.

What Are the Complications?

Complications of excessive alcohol consumption include:

  • Choking on one’s own vomit
  • Asphyxiation
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures from a drop in blood sugar
  • Death

This type of fast, high-volume drinking may also cause long term damage, permanently affecting the way the body works in the future. 

What Should You Do for Someone Showing Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?

If you suspect someone is in jeopardy, call 911 immediately or rush the intoxicated person to a hospital. It is essential to get them emergency care. One of the major risks of this condition is vomiting and asphyxiation from breathing it in. If you are with someone who is vomiting, stay with them and help them stay on their side or upright until emergency help arrives. This will help prevent choking.

Seizures and other symptoms that affect breathing and heart rate can be equally hazardous. This is why it’s important never to leave the person alone until the emergency team arrives. Be prepared to let the team into the home or facility so they can have quick access to those in trouble.

How to Recover From Alcohol Poisoning

If you or someone you know has consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, you should be aware that blood alcohol content (BAC) continues to rise for up to 40 minutes following the last drink. So even if you’ve stopped drinking, the danger isn’t over.

Recovering from an alcohol overdose safely requires hospitalization. The patient must be carefully observed and medically supported as the alcohol leaves their body. Some medical treatments that may be used are:

  • Hemodialysis or other procedures that help remove alcohol from the blood more quickly than natural methods
  • Intubation or oxygen therapy
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids to boost blood sugar, hydration and vitamin levels
  • Pumping or flushing the stomach to clear alcohol from the body

Other methods may also be utilized, depending on the severity of the case.

Following an incident, medical providers may speak with you about signing up for an addiction treatment program

Contact Serene Beginnings for Help

At Serene Beginnings, we know that you may struggle with an alcohol use disorder, but there are ways to break out of the cycle. Though you may have fallen victim to the dangers of alcohol and are suffering the consequences, we want you to know there is hope. Contact us today to talk about what we can do to help you avoid alcohol abuse in the future. We are here to assist you. Call 855-947-0552 to speak with one of our helpful admissions staff today.