Alcohol Poisoning: What You Should Know
What is alcohol poisoning?
- Alcohol poisoning is an acute, toxic condition that results from excessive amounts of alcohol being consumed within a relatively short period of time
- Alcohol poisoning may be fatal when it is associated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .30 or higher
- Death from alcohol poisoning may result from respiratory and/or cardiac arrest or choking on one's vomit leading to asphyxiation
- Even if the person survives, irreversible brain damage may occur
What are the signs of alcohol poisoning?
- Mental confusion
- Passed out and cannot be aroused
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Low body temperature
- Pale or bluish skin color
What can happen is alcohol poisoning goes untreated?
- Victim chokes on his or her own vomit
- Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops
- Heart beats irregularly or stops
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures
- Untreated, severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.
- Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet, dare, or with drinking games) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.
What should I do if I suspect someone has alcohol poisoning?
- Recognize that alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency
- Seek help immediately by calling (251) 460-6312 if you are on campus and 911 if off-campus
- Turn the affected individual on his/her side and stay there until help arrives
- Do not hesitate to seek help because you are concerned about the person's possible reaction later
- It is better to be safe than sorry!
Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don't worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed. Remember, you cared enough to help. Always be safe, not sorry.
For further information contact the USA Substance Abuse Program at (251) 460-7051.