It may be somewhat surprising to discover that alcohol poisoning is not something that just affects college-age adults. In fact, according to the CDC, there are over 2,000 deaths every year from alcohol poisoning and about 76% of those deaths occur among adults between the age of 35 and 64. In addition, men account for the majority of those alcohol poisoning deaths.
To better understand alcohol poisoning, we will discuss what it is, its signs and symptoms, treatment options, and what recovery may entail.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Many alcoholics have experienced alcohol poisoning without knowing it. If you consumed a large amount of alcohol in a short period, then it poisons your blood resulting in alcohol poisoning. Usually, the cause is binge drinking.
If you have alcohol poisoning, you can become confused, disorientated, have nausea or vomiting, have shallow breathing, and even end up in a coma and die. It is imperative that you seek medical attention if you suspect alcohol poisoning because it can be life-threatening. Often, young adults hesitate to call, thinking the person is “just pass out.” Young adults are not immune to alcohol poisoning, so if you suspect it, call for medical help, you may be saving their life!
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?
It’s important to understand that even if the person has stopped drinking, their blood alcohol content continues to rise. It can continue to rise for up to three hours after the last drink. Symptoms can get worse during this time:
- Confusion and unresponsive to commands
- Hypothermia or drop in body temperature
- Pale or blueish skin due to poor circulation
- Abnormal or slow breathing, of periods of time (10 seconds) without a breath
- Vomiting with the potential to choke on one’s vomit
Other life-threatening warning signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Breathing may stop
- Suffer a heart attack
- May choke on their vomit, and they may inhale it into the lungs
- Drop-in blood glucose causing a seizure
- Loss of too much fluid causing dehydration which affects the brain
- Hypothermia due to loss of body temperature
Though extreme, these symptoms can happen and lead to loss of life every day for binge drinkers and alcoholics. It’s essential to know the facts to know what to look for if you ever suspect someone has alcohol poisoning.
How Do You Treat Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning requires medical attention. The first thing to do is call 911 and have the person evaluated as soon as possible. There are a few suggestions to keep the individual safe until help arrives.
Try to keep the person awake and in a sitting position. Converse with them if at all possible. If they cannot sit up, then make sure if they are lying down, their head is turned to the side in case they vomit. This will help so they do not intake any vomit into the lungs.
You can try to give small sips of water if they can tolerate it. If it makes them nauseous, then stop immediately. Never try to force water if they are unconscious.
Suppose the person is unconscious and not responding, then put them in a comfortable side-lying position. Continue to check on their breathing regularly.
Do not under any circumstances give more alcohol. Also, it’s best not to force them to move if they cannot move for themselves. Just patiently sit with them and wait for help to arrive.
At the hospital, they will likely be treated or monitored. Doctors may watch them closely until their BAC drops to normal. However, if severe enough, Doctors can take life-saving measures such as:
- Insertion of a breathing tube
- IV for hydration, minerals, and glucose
- Stomach pump to remove the alcohol
- Catheter to measure urine output
Hopefully, the individual was helped in time, but most importantly, measures are taken to save their lives so they can then get the substance abuse treatment they need to live a healthy, sustainable life.
Why Do We See So Much Alcohol Poisoning?
The rise in binge drinking at an early age and middle adulthood is undoubtedly contributing to the American culture. People use tricks to get drunk faster, such as skipping meals, using drinking games, drinking alcohol with higher content, and getting a buzz faster.
Young adults often feel indestructible, and once they survive one binge are sure they will survive the nest. Middle adults have formed life-long habits around drinking and are lost on where to turn for help.
The highest risk groups are college-aged students, chronic alcoholics, and those taking medications that interact with alcohol.
There is help out there for all struggling with alcohol, and you no longer need to play Russian roulette. You can save your life with treatment.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.