TV shows and movies often portray drunkenness as comical and entertaining. People who are intoxicated stumble around, are over-emotional, and say things without thinking or filtering their words.
However, the truth of the matter can be much more serious. There’s a fine line between being drunk and having a dangerously high blood-alcohol level.
But what is alcohol poisoning and how dangerous is it? How long does alcohol poisoning last? Most importantly, what can you do to make sure alcohol poisoning doesn’t become fatal?
Keep reading to learn more about alcohol poisoning, the effects it can have on your body, and how to treat it.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
First, let’s talk about what alcohol poisoning means.
Essentially, your body can only handle a certain amount of toxins (alcohol, in this case) in a given period of time. For example, your liver is only able to process one ounce of liquor an hour. As you exceed this amount, the liver is no longer able to keep up with the processing of the alcohol.
As a result, toxins build up in your bloodstream and begin poisoning your body. Your muscle tissues, brain, and organs will all be affected.
Causes of Alcohol Poisoning
As noted above, overconsumption of alcohol is what leads to alcohol poisoning. But how much is too much?
There are many factors that determine someone’s tolerance for alcohol. This includes:
- Drinking history
- What you’ve eaten that day
- And more
However, anyone can become over-intoxicated by binge drinking or drinking too much in a short amount of time. Binging drinking is considered having five or more drinks in less than two hours (for men). For women, binge drinking is considered having four or more drinks in less than two hours.
For reference, a single drink is:
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor (whisky, rum, vodka, etc.)
- 5 ounces of wine
- 12 ounces of beer
Now, remember, these are basic guidelines. People might have higher or lower tolerances for alcohol based on their drinking habits, food consumption, size, etc.
Effects of Alcohol Poisoning
Sadly, untreated alcohol poisoning can result in death. Alcohol poisoning can lead to unconsciousness and a non-functioning gag reflex. As such, the victim is incapable of throwing up and ends up choking on their own vomit.
The question then, is what is alcohol poisoning in terms of side effects and symptoms? What are the signs of alcohol poisoning you should watch out for?
Alcohol poisoning often presents itself in the following ways:
- Extreme confusion/incoherency (beyond being tipsy)
- Inability to function
- Pale skin
- Poor blood circulation (blue lips and fingertips)
- Excessive vomiting
- Low body temperature
- Increased/rapid heart rate
- Slow breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Low blood pressure
Long-term side effects can include things like brain damage, hypothermia, and falling into a coma. To avoid getting alcohol poisoning, drink responsibly. For example, try to alternate non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic drinks.
Additionally, eat something substantial before you begin drinking. Finally, avoid playing drinking games that put an emphasis on how much you can drink or force you to drink based on the rules. Yes, these can be fun party games, but they can also be dangerous.
How to Treat Alcohol Poisoning
The next question we need to answer is what to do if you or someone you know is at risk of alcohol poisoning? How long does alcohol poisoning last?
If someone you know is presenting the symptoms of alcohol poisoning call 911 as soon as possible, they need immediate medical attention. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking illegally or there are other illegal things happening at the party. This is a matter of life and death.
While waiting for the medical response team to arrive, try to keep the person awake and sitting up. This will help them expel vomit if they’ve lost their gag reflex. Under no circumstances should they be left alone.
Because their body temperature will be low, cover them with a blanket. If the victim is unconscious, lay them on their side so they don’t choke on their vomit.
Once the victim is taken to the hospital, the medical professional may decide to pump their stomach. In this scenario, the doctor will use a tube to suction the content of the victim’s stomach out to avoid further poisoning. Alcohol poisoning treatment might also include IV fluids and being hooked up to oxygen assistance.
The duration of alcohol poisoning depends on the treatment the victim receives. The length of poisoning can also be affected by the same factors that determine their alcohol tolerance.
The Consequences of Continual Alcohol Abuse
Next, you need to ask what is alcohol poisoning in terms of something more serious? Is this incident representative of a bigger problem? Excessive drinking habits can point to alcoholism or alcohol use disorder.
If you are frequently binge drinking and getting drunk, it might be time to assess your habits. Continuing down this path can lead to a dependence on alcohol and countless side effects, such as:
- Behavioral changes
- Increased risk of cancer
- Brain damage/brain shrinkage
- Heart damage
- Liver damage
- Lung infections
- Reproductive issues
- Birth defects
- Thinning bones
- And more
If you continue to abuse alcohol, you are putting your health, happiness, and cognitive ability at risk. This can lead to a lower quality of life, major health complications, and early death.
How to Treat Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder
Aside from immediate alcohol poisoning treatment, you might also need to consider seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder. If you know you have a problem, the sooner you seek treatment, the better.
Our alcohol rehab center offers various levels of help for people struggling with alcohol dependency. Our programs include:
- Addiction treatment
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Outpatient rehab
- Sober living (inpatient) rehab
If you’re serious about overcoming your addiction, you must seek help. Healthy Life Recovery specializes in helping people like you move past their addictions so they can move forward with their lives.
Do You Require Alcohol Poisoning Treatment or Help with Alcohol Use Disorder?
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.
And now that you know more about “What is alcohol poisoning?” and how to treat it, you can start to think about more important things. Do you need to seek treatment for alcohol use disorder? Is someone you know struggling with alcoholism?
If you or someone you know needs help, contact us today. Talk to us about your issues and we will help you find the right treatment option. The road to recovery can begin as early as today.