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Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a dangerous and even life-threatening condition. Learn more about alcohol poisoning and get treatment for alcohol addiction before it is too late.

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Alcohol Poisoning

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    Understanding Alcohol Poisoning

    Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person has consumed more alcohol in a short time than their body can process.
    The body is overwhelmed by the toxic effects of alcohol, leading to severe impairment, and dangerous physical effects that become increasingly hazardous over time, and if more alcohol is consumed.
    If left untreated, these effects can be fatal.

    Who is At Risk of Alcohol Poisoning

    Alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, weight, or alcohol tolerance.

    Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short space of time. This makes binge drinking (usually defined as five drinks for a man in one sitting and four for a woman) especially dangerous. 

    Alcohol poisoning is a major problem in America. Around 2,000 Americans a year, or 6 per day, die from alcohol poisoning. 

    BAC Chart

    Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels serve as a guide for measuring the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. BAC is usually measured from breath, blood, and urine tests.
    BAC measures how much alcohol is in the bloodstream. The risk of alcohol poisoning is measured by a person’s BAC level.
    Because factors such as age, weight, gender, metabolism, and alcohol tolerance influence how rapidly the body processes alcohol, even if two people have consumed the same amount of alcohol, they may have radically different BACs.
    This is why BAC is a much better measure of alcohol toxicity than the amount of alcohol consumed. In most American states, the legal limit is a BAC of 0.08.
    Although everyone processes alcohol differently, and the same person can even process alcohol differently in different circumstances (such as if they have eaten or taken medication), this chart may still provide a rough estimate of BAC based on different weights and drinks consumed.

    BACs highlighted in italics are illegal limits in most American states. 

    Weight (lbs)

    Number of Drinks

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    6

    7

    8

    9

    100

    0.032

    0.065

    0.097

    .0129

    .0162

    0.194

    0.226

    0.258

    0.291

    120

    0.027

    0.054

    0.081

    0.108

    0.135

    0.161

    0.188

    0.215

    0.242

    140

    0.023

    0.046

    0.069

    0.092

    0.115

    0.138

    0.161

    0.184

    0.207

    160

    0.020

    0.040

    0.060

    0.080

    0.101

    0.121

    0.141

    0.161

    0.181

    180

    0.018

    0.036

    0.054

    0.072

    0.090

    0.108

    0.126

    0.144

    0.162

    200

    0.016

    0.032

    0.048

    0.064

    0.080

    0.097

    0.113

    0.129

    0.145

    220

    0.015

    0.029

    0.044

    0.058

    0.073

    0.088

    0.102

    0.117

    0.131

    240

    0.014

    0.027

    0.040

    0.053

    0.067

    0.081

    0.095

    0.108

    0.121

    How Does Alcohol Poisoning Occur

    The body primarily metabolizes alcohol in the liver. However, this process can only happen so quickly, with the average person only being able to process one ounce of alcohol every hour.
    An ounce of alcohol is roughly the same amount that is found in one shot of hard liquor, one glass of wine, or one beer.
    If a person drinks more alcohol before the body has had a chance to break down the alcohol they have already consumed, that alcohol remains in their bloodstream and increases their BAC.
    The BAC rises as more alcohol is consumed, and rises higher more rapidly when alcohol is consumed quickly.
    The process of alcohol poisoning is as follows:
    • As the level of BAC rises, the dangerous impact that alcohol has on the body systems it encounters rises too. 

     

    • The level of impairment increases with each drink. Impairment generally begins with feelings of euphoria and warmth. 

     

    • Slowly but surely, consumption leads to lower inhibitions and an impact on mood. Speech becomes slurred, and vision, reaction time, decision making, hearing, and balance all become increasingly impaired. 

     

    • Eventually, all motor functions are so impaired that the individual is essentially incapable of functioning properly.

     

    • At some point in this process, the body will no longer be able to handle the alcohol and will begin to purge itself. The individual will start to feel nauseous, and will eventually begin vomiting. 

     

    • The next stage of alcohol poisoning is generally when the person blacks out. This happens when the person loses all control, and will generally not remember anything that happened the next day.

     

    • There reaches a point when the body cannot handle the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. In most instances, the person will lose consciousness completely. 

     

    • However, their body is still processing the alcohol, so they may continue to vomit even while unconscious. If a person vomits while unconscious it may fill up and block their air passages. If they are alone, they could choke and die. 

     

    • If a person consumes so much alcohol that their body is unable to process it, their system may shut down. They may fall into a coma, experience permanent brain damage, and potentially die of numerous conditions, most notably cardiac arrest and dehydration.

    Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

    • Confusion, incoherence, and stupor
    • Unconsciousness or coma
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Vomiting, that often continues even if the person is unconscious
    • Erratic or drastically slowed breathing
    • Low body temperature
    • Seizures
    • Pale or blue-tinged skin color 

    Treatment for Alcohol Poisoning

    Some people may be embarrassed or scared to visit an emergency room to get help for a friend that they suspect has alcohol poisoning.
    However, the risk of embarrassment, cost, or reproach from friends and family is far lower than the risk of death.
    Although the person with suspected alcohol poisoning must go to the hospital immediately, there are some steps to take while en route or waiting for an ambulance:
    • Ensure that the person stays on their side if they are lying down, to reduce the risk of death from choking on vomit
    • Monitor their breathing and try to keep them conscious if possible
    • Never leave the individual alone or unattended 

    Alcohol Poisoning Prevention

    Alcohol poisoning is entirely preventable.
    To prevent alcohol poisoning, remember the following:
    • Drink in moderation, if you have to drink at all. 
    • Drink slowly
    • Never drink on an empty stomach
    • Drink sufficient amounts of water in between alcoholic drinks
    • Educate yourself, your family, and friends about the dangers of alcohol poisoning

    Get Help for Alcoholism

    If you or a loved one have a drinking problem, you are at an increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Do not be another statistic among the millions of Americans whose lives have been ruined by alcohol. Get in touch with us today so that we can help you discuss alcohol rehab options. Recovery is possible.

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