Alcohol is present in many social situations, and when consumed in moderation, alcohol can help people “loosen up” by suppressing inhibitions. However, the social nature of drinking can mask the dangers of alcohol consumption. Occasions such as parties and celebrations can lead people to drink far more than they normally would, usually because they don’t notice how much they’ve consumed or they feel pressured to drink beyond a safe amount.
Many people have “had too much to drink” at some point in their lives. Usually this results in hangovers—periods of nausea, headaches, and sensitivity to light and noise. However, binge drinking (consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short time) can lead to alcohol overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning, a serious and possibly life-threatening condition that results in 2,200 deaths in the US every year.
Often, a person displaying alcohol poisoning symptoms will be around other people who are drinking. This can lead to alcohol poisoning symptoms going unnoticed or being perceived as harmless. This danger is compounded by the fact that those most at-risk for alcohol poisoning are young, inexperienced drinkers. Without medical care and supervision, alcohol poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and even death.
As you might imagine, repeated instances of alcohol poisoning can be even more dangerous. If you or a loved one are consistently drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning, it could be a major sign of alcohol addiction. Read on and learn about the symptoms of alcohol poisoning to help you identify dangerous drinking patterns.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
Alcohol induces nausea, and your body’s natural response may be to cause you to vomit. Because your body (somewhat accurately) thinks that alcohol is poisoning you, it will attempt to expel undigested alcohol from your system when you have drank too much. While vomiting is never pleasant, it may prove especially dangerous if you are experiencing alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol can stop your gag reflex from working, making it harder to clear obstructions from the throat. Because of this, vomiting can be extremely dangerous if you’ve been drinking too much, because your stomach contents can block your airway.
2. Slow Breathing
Alcohol suppresses the body’s respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe and potentially leading to respiratory failure. However, because many people with alcohol poisoning lose consciousness, it can be hard to tell if they’re breathing normally. If an unconscious person seems to be breathing abnormally slowly— eight or fewer breaths per minute— then they require immediate medical assistance.
3. Difficulty Staying Awake
Drowsiness is a common side-effect of alcohol, but a pronounced difficulty staying awake or being roused from unconsciousness is a symptom of alcohol poisoning. However, many people mistakenly believe that someone is “safe” once they’ve passed out from alcohol. Because blood alcohol levels can continue to rise when unconscious, it is important that you carefully monitor a drinker’s condition, even after they have passed out from alcohol consumption.
4. Low Body Temperature
Excessive alcohol intake inhibits the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature, leading to hypothermia. Purplish-blue spots may appear, often on the hands or feet. This is a serious warning sign, as low body temperatures can cause cardiac arrest.
If you suspect that somebody has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Urban myths about alcohol overdose that recommend taking a cold shower, drinking coffee, or simply “sleeping it off” are dangerous misinformation. The only cure for alcohol poisoning is waiting for the body to finish processing the alcohol in its system, but professional medical supervision is important to help replenish fluids and prevent possibly life-threatening complications.
Additionally, people who regularly experience alcohol poisoning may require alcohol detox if they ever want to become sober. Without a detox program, they could risk their health by quitting alcohol cold turkey. However, changing their drinking habits is the only surefire way to protect themselves from alcohol poisoning.
How Can I Avoid Alcohol Poisoning?
The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to drink with moderation. Drink small amounts, and allow enough time to pass in between each drink for your body to process the alcohol. If you or somebody you know has difficulty not drinking to excess or has repeatedly shown signs of alcohol poisoning, it may be a sign of alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcohol addiction or alcoholism.
Approximately 5.8% of adults in the US are estimated to have AUD. People with AUD are particularly at risk for alcohol poisoning, as they drink frequently and often in large amounts. Common signs of alcohol addiction include giving up activities that were once important to you as a result of drinking, continuing to drink despite it causing issues with families or friends, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms—such as insomnia, shakiness, or depression—when you go too long without alcohol.
Because you can easily purchase alcohol in liquor stores, gas stations, or supermarkets, people with alcohol addictions may find it difficult to resist the temptation to relapse. Often, they try to quit or cut back on their drinking, but fail to stick to the goals they set for themselves. In these cases, professional addiction treatment can help them start on the path to long-term sobriety.
At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, our trained addiction experts can provide that help, advising and encouraging you every step of the way. Our addiction treatment center will give you the tools that you need to heal from addiction in a safe, stable environment. For those who have had difficulties with relapsing or feel that their lifestyle is preventing them from dealing with their substance abuse issues, this change of scenery may be exactly what you need.
Our caring staff are present 24 hours a day, providing round-the-clock personalized care. From helping you develop coping strategies and support networks to creating relapse prevention plans, the Vance Johnson Recovery Center puts you into the best possible position to take control of your life and change it for the better.
Do you have questions about our treatment center or our programming? You can call our admissions specialists at 1-772-210-3869, or you can fill out our confidential contact form. At the Vance Johnson Recovery Center, your recovery means just as much to us as it does to you.