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5 Signs You Have Alcohol Poisoning

5 Signs You Have Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is no joke. It is a matter of life and death. It can occur quickly, and without much warning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Americans die each day from alcohol poisoning. You can help prevent someone from dying from alcohol poisoning by knowing its signs and getting help immediately.

Here are 7 signs of alcohol poisoning:

1. Confusion or disorientation
When a person is struggling with the effects of alcohol poisoning, they often experience some confusion and they may not know where they are, who they are with, or what they are doing. If a person who has been drinking starts exhibiting confusion about their circumstances, it may be a sign.

2. Nausea and vomiting
Alcohol irritates the stomach lining which can cause nausea and vomiting. Under normal circumstances, vomiting can trigger gagging to clear airways. A great danger is that, being intoxicated, the gag reflex can diminish and a person can choke to death on their own vomit.

3. Slow or irregular breathing and/or shivering or low body temperature
Excessive amounts of alcohol can begin to shut down some of the body’s essential functions. Brain functions which control breathing and body temperature may be inhibited. People with alcohol poisoning will have difficulty breathing or experience irregularity in their breathing, with long periods of time (ten seconds or more) in between breaths. They are also at increased risk of hypothermia.

4. Blue or pale skin coloring
As related to difficulty in breathing or being cold—see number 3.

5. Passing out
As excessive alcohol starts to take over the brain, you may have difficulty staying awake, starting to drift in and out of consciousness. Some sufferers fall unconscious even in loud party settings.

5 Signs You Have Alcohol Poisoning

Seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Your friend or loved one may become angry or embarrassed if you call 911, but it’s better to have them alive and angry than dead.

How did this happen?

Binge drinking is a major cause of alcohol poisoning and alcohol related deaths in the US. 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.

Besides binge drinking, many other factors can contribute to alcohol poisoning. These factors include age, sex, drinking experience, unknown allergies to alcohol and the amount of food eaten, among others.

What to DO:

  • Stay with them. Check often to make sure they are still conscious and responsive.
  • Make certain that they stay on their side, not their back. 
  • Do not ridicule, judge, threaten, or try to counsel them.
  • Remain calm and be firm. Avoid communicating feelings of anxiety or anger.
  • Keep them quiet and comfortable. If they are in the sun, move them to the shade. If cold, move them to a warm place and offer a blanket.
  • Remember that only time will sober up a drunk person.

What NOT to DO:

  • Do not give the person coffee. Caffeine can cause further dehydration.
  • Do not attempt to feed the person. They may choke on the food due to a lack of gag reflex or ability to swallow.
  • Do not give the person any other medications. Mixing drugs and alcohol will likely make the alcohol poisoning worse.
  • Do not make the person throw up to get alcohol out of the stomach. Their gag reflex will likely not work and they could choke.
  • Do not walk the person around, in an attempt to “walk it off.” Reduced physical coordination could lead to falls or other accidental harm.
  • Do not put the person in a cold shower. This could increase hypothermia.
  • Do not let the person “sleep it off.” Alcohol is likely still digesting into their bloodstream and their symptoms could get much worse.
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Do not allow the person to drink more alcohol.

Get help!
After the crisis settles, get more help—the kind of help which will prevent this from ever happening again.

At Honey Lake Clinic, our licensed and experienced staff of doctors, therapists and counselors can help you or your loved one fully recover from alcohol abuse. We offer medically-monitored detox, assisting clients through alcohol withdrawal since withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening in some instances. We offer comprehensive therapy following detox, ensuring the issues behind the substance abuse are fully addressed.

This is scary, we know. But you don’t have to face it alone. We can help.

Recognizing you need help is a vitally important first step. Now, make the call! Call Honey Lake Clinic (888) 837-6577 Email or Visit