Alcohol Poisoning: Know What to Look For

alcohol poisoning

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths per year in the U.S. Because drinking clouds judgment and causes people to indulge past appropriate limits, alcohol poisoning can occur rapidly, without much warning. That’s why it is essential to know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, especially if you are going to a social event where you or your friends might experience pressure to binge drink.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

People who drink too many alcoholic beverages within a short timeframe are putting themselves at risk of alcohol poisoning. Your liver can process one serving of alcohol per hour, which equates to:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, like whiskey, tequila, gin, rum or vodka

Binge drinking is a significant cause of alcohol poisoning. The definition of binge drinking is four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women, and five or more drinks in the same time period for men.

The Effects of Alcohol Poisoning on the Body

Because your liver can only handle one serving of alcohol each hour, if you drink two servings, you will have more alcohol in your system than your body can process. Most people consume alcohol in liquid form. After it enters your bloodstream, your digestive system processes it and it then travels to your brain.

This process takes place gradually, which means the amount of alcohol you drink may not be completely in your bloodstream when the symptoms of alcohol poisoning begin to emerge. Continued digestion of alcohol could affect your body even further, even if you are already suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Hypothermia
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Lack of physical coordination, including an inability to walk
  • Irregular breathing and pulse
  • Seizures or choking
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

What to Do If Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning

If you see someone exhibiting any combination of the symptoms above, call 911 immediately, and stay with the person to prevent them from accidentally harming themselves. Even if the person is conscious and responsive, you should still call for emergency medical assistance. Their system is probably still processing the alcohol they consumed earlier, which could make their problem even more severe.

After calling 911, you should take other steps as well:

  • Keep them awake and sitting up, if possible.
  • Let them know you have called emergency medical professionals to help them.
  • If they are conscious and able to swallow, encourage them to take small sips of water.
  • If they are unconscious and lying down, carefully roll them on their side with their arms over their head to reduce the risk of them choking if they vomit.

Getting Help After Alcohol Poisoning

If you or someone you know has experienced alcohol poisoning, it does not necessarily indicate the presence of an alcohol use disorder. However, people living with alcohol misuse issues are at an increased chance of experiencing alcohol poisoning. In these cases, a comprehensive, personalized treatment program is necessary to help people reboot their lives. At Spearhead Lodge, we offer extended alcohol and drug treatment for young men in Austin, Texas. Contact us to learn more about what we offer and what sets our facility apart.