Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

If anyone shows signs of severe intoxication, contact emergency services immediately. These symptoms often occur in stages, depending on how intoxicated a person is. The table below shows common symptoms at each level of alcohol intoxication. Although people can safely consume alcohol without experiencing immediate adverse health effects, long term alcohol consumption can jeopardize overall health. Severe alcohol intoxication — or alcohol poisoning — is a dangerous condition that requires immediate medical attention.

alcohol poisoning

Recognizing an overdose

The term intoxication is commonly used when large amount of alcohol is consumed along with physical symptoms and deleterious health effects. Teenagers and young adults who drink may be at particular risk for alcohol overdose. Research shows that teens and college-age young adults often engage in binge drinking and high-intensity drinking. Drinking such large quantities of alcohol can overwhelm the body’s ability to break down and clear alcohol from the bloodstream. This leads to rapid increases in BAC and significantly impairs brain and other bodily functions.

How does alcohol cause intoxication?

Someone with a smaller body may experience the effects of alcohol more rapidly than someone with a larger body. In fact, the smaller-bodied person may experience an alcohol overdose after drinking the same amount that a larger-bodied person can consume safely. The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to not drink or to limit your alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink, it’s a good idea to drink responsibly and stick to the guidelines for moderating drinking that are mentioned above.

Impact on your health

Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. There is nothing that you can do to counteract alcohol’s toxic effects or speed up its elimination from the body. Several functions — including speech, balance, coordination, judgment, and reaction times — are significantly impaired. Memory gaps or blackouts may also occur, and the person may vomit.

  • People cannot treat severe alcohol intoxication — or alcohol poisoning — at home.
  • Call 911 if someone you know is experiencing an alcohol overdose.
  • Theories suggest that for certain people drinking has a different and stronger impact that can lead to alcohol use disorder.
  • As blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases, so does the effect of alcohol—as well as the risk of harm.
  • And it takes a lot more time for the body to get rid of alcohol.

How do increasing levels of alcohol affect the body?

Your doctor may also perform additional tests, such as blood tests (to determine your blood alcohol and glucose levels) and urine tests. Because an alcohol overdose can suppress a person’s alcohol poisoning gag reflex, they could choke and possibly die if they vomit while unconscious and lying on their back. If vomit is inhaled into the lungs, it can cause a person to stop breathing.

Young adults are more likely to drink excessively, leading to an alcohol overdose. Ensuring that you drink responsibly can prevent alcohol poisoning. Always drink in moderation, and keep track of the amount of drinks you’ve had. Additionally, some drinks, such as mixed drinks, can have more than one serving of alcohol in them.

  • The risk of alcohol poisoning also depends on your size, your tolerance for alcohol, and the amount of food in your stomach.
  • If the person – who may sometimes be a child – has unintentionally drunk methanol or isopropyl alcohol and has alcohol poisoning they may need dialysis to speed up the removal of toxins from their system.
  • However, severe alcohol overdose may cause seizures, resulting in brain damage if oxygen to the brain is cut off.
  • This typically occurs after females consume four drinks or more and males consume five drinks or more during a 2-hour period.

Talk with your teenagers or young adult children about the dangers of binge drinking and high intensity drinking. This includes discussing drinking games, which can easily lead to alcohol poisoning. Also, emphasize the importance of knowing when enough is enough, and discuss how to intervene if a friend is drinking too much or too quickly.

Talk to Someone About Alcoholism Treatment

alcohol poisoning

This article looks at fatal blood alcohol levels, signs and treatment of alcohol overdose, what BAC is and signs of different BAC levels, and support with managing or quitting drinking. A low level of alcohol intoxication causes mild symptoms, while severe intoxication, or alcohol poisoning, can be life threatening. Alcohol can irritate a person’s stomach, causing them to vomit–even when they are unconscious.

alcohol poisoning

Critical Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Overdose

An alcohol binge can occur over hours or last up to several days. Alcohol in the form of ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is in alcoholic beverages. It’s also in mouthwash, some cooking extracts, some medicines and certain household products. Ethyl alcohol poisoning generally results from drinking too many alcoholic beverages in a short period of time. Alcohol poisoning is a serious — and sometimes deadly — result of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.