Alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained in many societies, often associated with socializing and celebration. While moderate drinking can be enjoyed responsibly, excessive intake can have severe consequences, including alcohol poisoning. Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning is crucial as it is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
We will delve into the topic of alcohol poisoning, exploring its detection, facts, and symptoms. We will examine the physiological effects of consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and shed light on the potential dangers that arise from this condition. By understanding the signs and symptoms associated with alcohol poisoning, individuals and their loved ones can be better equipped to identify when emergency medical intervention is necessary.
This article is designed to help you better understand the common warning signs of alcohol dependency. If you have questions on available Colorado alcohol treatment, contact AspenRidge Recovery today at (855) 281-5588.
Furthermore, we will provide factual information regarding safe alcohol consumption limits and debunk common myths surrounding alcohol poisoning. Educating ourselves and spreading awareness about this critical issue is essential to promoting responsible drinking habits and minimizing the risks associated with alcohol consumption.
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Statistics That Should Persuade You That Alcohol is Poison
Not convinced alcohol is a type of poison? Here are just a few of the many statistics available on alcohol consumption that might change your mind:
- Alcohol causes alcohol-related liver diseases like liver cancer, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fatty liver.
- Excessive alcohol consumption has been proven to cause brain damage.
- More than 2,220 people die from alcohol poisoning every year.
- There are more than 50,000 reported cases of alcohol poisoning every year in the United States.
- About 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes ever year.
- Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
If alcohol wasn’t a poison, you wouldn’t see these kind of statistics. Although it might be sold in nice bottles with pretty labels, make no mistake about it, alcohol is a type of poison that can have detrimental consequences on your body (not to mention your life!).
Alcohol abuse is a major problem in the United States. According to reports, people are drinking themselves to death in record numbers. That’s what happens when you mix poison with water. People get sick and they die.
Alcohol Poisoning Definition – What Happens When You Drink Too Much
Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual consumes excessive amounts of alcohol within a short period of time. The body’s ability to process alcohol becomes overwhelmed, leading to a toxic buildup that can have detrimental effects on various bodily systems. Here are some key points to understand about what happens when you drink too much:
- Overwhelming the Liver: The liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol. When large amounts of alcohol are consumed, the liver struggles to keep up, leading to a backlog of toxins in the bloodstream.
- Depressed Central Nervous System: Alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause slowed breathing, reduced heart rate, and impaired motor coordination.
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and leads to dehydration. Severe dehydration can result from excessive drinking, leading to electrolyte imbalances and other complications.
- Acidic Blood: Alcohol metabolism produces toxic byproducts, including acetaldehyde, which can cause a drop in blood pH levels. Acidic blood can damage organs and interfere with normal bodily functions.
- Choking Hazards: Alcohol can suppress the gag reflex, increasing the risk of choking on vomit. This is particularly dangerous if an individual is unconscious or unable to protect their airway.
Understanding the definition of alcohol poisoning and its physiological consequences is crucial for recognizing the severity of the condition and seeking immediate medical assistance when necessary.
Alcohol Poisoning is Alcohol Overdose
We hear about people dying from a heroin overdose or an OD from barbiturates all the time. What we don’t hear about is people overdosing on alcohol. Why? Well, maybe if we did, Budweiser wouldn’t be able to sponsor baseball games anymore. Maybe then, it wouldn’t be sold at restaurants or convenience stores. Alcohol sales make up a booming industry. Having public conversations about alcohol overdose isn’t good for business.
The truth is, thousands of people die from alcohol overdoses every year. We just don’t call them overdoses. We call it alcohol poisoning.
To be clear, when someone has alcohol poisoning, they are overdosing on alcohol. In extreme cases, when there is too much alcohol in the system, the body can’t handle it, the body shuts down, and the body dies. This is how someone has a fatal overdose from alcohol consumption.
Binge Drinking – The Number One Cause of Alcohol Poisoning
Usually, alcohol poison happens as the result of binge drinking.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.” Alcohol poisoning usually happens when blood alcohol levels reach .28 with half of all drinkers dying when their blood alcohol level reaches .40.
This may not seem like a lot of alcohol, but it is. Those of us who have ever had a problem with drinking can easily consume four or five drinks in less than two hours. In fact, we may not even consider that a good start! However; it is important to keep in mind that the body can only process about one drink an hour.
Since binge drinkers often order giant hurricanes with beers sticking out of them, here’s the definition of one drink:
One drink is defined as:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is about 5 percent alcohol
- 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor, which is about 7 percent alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which is about 12 percent alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor, which is about 40 percent alcohol
Drinking too many alcoholic beverages too fast can easily lead to alcohol poisoning, which is why binge drinking is so dangerous.
The Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
How do you know if you or someone you care about has alcohol poisoning? Here are a few of the symptoms explained:
Anyone who is intoxicated is going to experience confusion. However; someone with alcohol poisoning is going to experience extreme confusion. If the person in question cannot make any coherent sense, you should be worried. Ask them their name, what year it is, and ask them their birthday. If they cannot give you answers to these simple questions, they most likely have alcohol poisoning.
Most people who drink too much alcohol in a short period of time are going to experience vomiting. While alcohol is an irritant of the stomach and can cause vomiting, someone who is throwing up from drinking too much alcohol may be experiencing alcohol poisoning. Quite often, people who experience vomiting as the result of too much alcohol are experiencing at least a mild case of alcohol poisoning.
Again, just like the previously listed symptoms, someone who is drunk is going to slur their speech. However; if the speech is extremely slurred and even incoherent, you should definitely consider the possibility that the person has alcohol poisoning.
If you notice that the person you are worried about is breathing very slowly, you should be extremely concerned. Slowed breathing is a sign of alcohol poisoning. Unlike confusion, vomiting, and slurred speech, shallow breathing is not a sign of mild alcohol poisoning – it’s a reason to get immediate medical assistance.
Blue-colored tint to the skin
If someone appears to be turning blue, call 9-1-1 immediately. This means their body is shutting down and death could be imminent.
Low body temperature
If you think someone might have alcohol poisoning and they are cold to the touch, you should get help right away. Low body temperature is another sign that the body is shutting down because blood is not circulating properly.
If someone is convulsing or shaking violently, they are probably having a seizure related to alcohol poisoning. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not hesitate.
Unconscious (passing out) and cannot be awakened
People get drunk and they pass out. Happens all the time. But, if you suspect someone may have alcohol poisoning, you should check on them regularly to make sure they can be awakened. If you cannot shake them from slumber, you should assume they need medical care and you should call for help. Coma and death can result from someone slipping into unconsciousness while they are experiencing alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol Poisoning – What to do if Someone is Experiencing Symptoms
If you suspect that someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, it is vital to take immediate action. Recognizing the symptoms and knowing what to do can potentially save a life. Here are crucial steps to follow if you believe someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning:
- Call for Emergency Assistance: Dial emergency services right away. Provide accurate information about the situation, including the individual’s condition, symptoms, and level of consciousness.
- Stay with the Person: Do not leave the affected individual alone, especially if they are unconscious. Monitor their breathing and keep them in a safe position to prevent choking on vomit.
- Do Not Make Them Vomit: Contrary to popular belief, inducing vomiting is not recommended. It can further endanger the person by causing choking or aspiration.
- Prevent Dehydration: Offer water or non-alcoholic fluids if the person is conscious and able to drink. However, do not force them to drink if they are unconscious or semi-conscious.
- Provide Support and Reassurance: Stay calm and offer reassurance to the person. Let them know help is on the way and that they are not alone.
- Share Information: If possible, inform emergency responders about the amount and type of alcohol consumed. This information can assist medical professionals in providing appropriate treatment.
Remember, alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency, and it is crucial to seek professional help immediately. Prompt action can significantly increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Factors that Contribute to Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning is caused by the amount of alcohol in someone’s bloodstream. When there is too much, and the body can’t handle it, the body becomes poisoned. Then, the drinker experiences the symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
It is important to discuss some of the factors that results in alcohol poisoning:
- Height and weight. Someone’s height and weight will determine how much alcohol their body can safely process in a given time. The bigger the person, the more alcohol they will be able to tolerate.
- How much they have eaten that day. If someone drinks large quantities of alcohol on an empty stomach, they are more likely to experience alcohol poisoning. Food helps the body metabolize alcohol more safely.
- General overall health. If someone is in poor health, they are more likely to experience alcohol poisoning. A healthy liver goes a long way to helping the body process alcohol. If someone if a chronic drinker and has liver damage, their chances of experiencing alcohol poisoning are greater than someone who is in good health.
- Hydration. Alcohol dehydrates the body. If someone is already severely dehydrated when they start drinking, they greatly increase the likelihood of falling victim to alcohol poisoning.
- The use of other drugs. If someone mixes other drugs with alcohol, like heroin or cocaine for example, the body has to work harder to process the alcohol. This makes the probability of alcohol poisoning much greater.
Alcohol Poisoning Treatment – What to Expect
Someone might think they are having a whole lot of fun when they are binging on alcohol, but getting treatment for alcohol poisoning is no walk in the park.
Here are some typical treatments for alcohol poisoning:
- Stomach pumping. Someone who is experiencing alcohol poisoning will probably have their stomach pumped when they arrive at the hospital. This involves putting a large tube down someone’s esophagus to drain all the contents of the stomach. Stomach pumping gets all the alcohol out of the person’s stomach and prevents them from absorbing any more alcohol into the blood stream. Needless to say, it’s very uncomfortable.
- Medications. Someone with alcohol poisoning may be given different medications intravenously to help them detox from the alcohol.
- Hydration. As mentioned previously, alcohol dehydrates the body. Someone who has fallen victim to alcohol poisoning is extremely dehydrated by the time they reach the hospital. They will be given fluids intravenously to help hydrate the body, which helps the liver to process the alcohol.
- Oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is common for someone who is experiencing alcohol poisoning. Too much alcohol causes shallow breathing. Making sure someone who has consumed too much alcohol gets enough oxygen is imperative.
- Vitamins and glucose. In addition to fluids, someone with alcohol poisoning will be given vitamins and glucose to bring their body back to a place of wellness.
- Monitoring and evaluation. The patient will be closely monitored and evaluated for 24 – 48 hours to make sure they have safely navigated the crisis. This includes regular checks of blood alcohol content.
Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorder at AspenRidge Recovery Center
The best way to prevent alcohol poisoning is to drink responsibly and to know the signs and symptoms. However, drinking responsibly can be a difficult solution for someone with alcohol use disorder. Individuals struggling with alcoholism are more prone to alcohol poisoning than the average person. One of the best ways an individual with Alcohol Use Disorder can protect themselves from alcohol poisoning is to seek alcohol addiction treatment and rehabilitation.
If you have been questioning your or a loved one’s drinking behaviors, you are encouraged to explore the AspenRidge website. Several resources are available including personal assessments to help guide you in your decision towards recovery. Admissions staff are available to answer questions. AspenRidge is a top-rated treatment facility in the state of Colorado with multiple locations. They offer outpatient services, in-patient treatment options, partial hospitalization options, and extended recovery monitoring.
AspenRidge’s successful therapy programs are tailored to each patient to ensure they receive the most appropriate rehabilitation. You can reach AspenRidge at (855) 281-5588 if you have any questions or would like more information about the rehabilitation services they provide in Colorado.