Alcohol Poisoning

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Approximately 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported each year in the United States. In addition, about once every week, someone needlessly dies from alcohol poisoning.

Understanding alcohol poisoning and its symptoms and the causes of a toxic reaction and responding appropriately to such situations can help avoid a fatal alcohol overdose.

The saddest part about alcohol poisoning, especially when an individual loses his or her life to alcohol poisoning, however, is that it is 100 per cent avoidable.

Alcohol Poisoning and Blood Alcohol Level Factors

Alcohol poisoning, also known as alcohol overdose, is a dangerous and sometimes deadly result of drinking significantly more ethanol alcohol than the body can process.

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It is important to point out, moreover, that binge drinking (consuming five or more alcoholic drinks at one sitting for males and drinking four or more alcoholic beverages at one sitting for females) can also result in alcohol poisoning.

In short, even if a person gets drunk one time per year, this one-time "binge" can result in alcohol poisoning.

The effects of the alcohol on your body depend on the amount of alcohol in your blood (known as blood alcohol level or blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Factors that affect your blood alcohol level include the following:

  • How quickly you consume the alcoholic drink

  • How much alcohol you ingest

  • How strong the alcoholic drink is

  • How much the drinker weighs

  • How much food is in your stomach at the time you drink

  • How fast your body metabolizes the alcohol

Common Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

The first symptom of alcohol poisoning is usually nausea, followed by vomiting.

These symptoms are indications from your body letting you know that you ingested more alcohol than your body can metabolize.

The following list typifies other symptoms and signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Unconsciousness (passing out)

  • Absent reflexes

  • Seizures

  • No withdrawal from painful stimuli (for instance from pinching)

  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin

  • Confusion

  • Feeling very ill, including continuous or excessive vomiting

  • Difficulty awakening the person

  • Erratic behavior

  • Slurred speech

  • Slow, shallow, or irregular breathing

  • Inability to make eye contact or sustain a conversation

The Interaction of Alcohol and Other Drugs

It must be emphasized that alcohol can also be hazardous, can lead to an overdose, and can be fatal in smaller amounts if it is used in combination with the following drugs:

  • Narcotic pain medications (such as codeine, codeine derivatives, opium, heroin, and darvocet).

  • Sedatives (examples include barbiturates, tranquilizers, and cannabis).

  • Certain anti-seizure medications (such as phenobarbital).  

Conclusion: Alcohol Poisoning

Around 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported each year in the United States, and approximately once per week, someone needlessly dies from alcohol poisoning. Understanding the causes of alcohol poisoning and its symptoms and reacting quickly and properly to such circumstances can help avoid a fatal overdose.

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If a person experiences an alcohol overdose, he or she is an alcohol abuser. As a result, this person needs to keep the following in mind: the more that alcohol is consumed in an abusive manner, the more likely it is that the drinker will become an alcoholic. If this describes you, then you need to be honest with yourself and admit that you have a drinking problem.

Once you have taken this step, consider making it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment as soon as possible.

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