Are They Drunk or Overdosing on Alcohol? - Banyan Treatment Center

Are They Drunk or Overdosing on Alcohol?


Many people engage in binge drinking or heavy drinking on the weekends or on holidays.

As a nervous system depressant, alcohol can quickly turn a fun night into a tragedy. Alcohol poisoning may start slowly, with symptoms similar to being drunk, but as time goes on and the body struggles to process all the alcohol within the bloodstream, poisoning and overdose can happen. Identifying signs of alcohol poisoning is the first step to saving a life.

What Does Alcohol Overdose Look Like?

Alcohol overdose happens when there’s far too much alcohol in the bloodstream, so much that the brain has trouble controlling basic life functions like breathing, temperature control, and heart rate. [1] There’s not a set number of drinks that will cause alcohol poisoning, each person’s tolerance for drinking will vary. Common alcohol overdose symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting, chocking on vomit
  • Slow heart rate
  • No gag reflex
  • Low body temperature

What Is the Difference Between Being Drunk and Alcohol Overdose?

Some of these symptoms are also common when a person is drunk, such as vomiting or confusion. There isn’t a real difference between being drunk or suffering from alcohol overdose, the mechanisms behind the two are the same – alcohol is dulling systems within the mind and body. The only difference is that when a person is suffering from alcohol overdose, they’ve had far too much to drink and alcohol’s dangerous effects on the mind and body are magnified to a deadly level.

What to Do If Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning

When someone is showing symptoms of alcohol overdose, it’s important to call 911 immediately. Things can worsen and quickly become deadly, doctors and paramedics can save their life. While waiting for emergency responders to arrive, your 911 operator may instruct you to lay the person on their side to prevent choking.

After the immediate threat of alcohol overdose has been dealt with, treatment is needed to address the alcohol use disorder. At Banyan Treatment Centers, we offer alcohol treatment and detox services to help people overcome struggles with alcoholism and binge drinking.

Call 888-280-4763 to learn more about the treatment programs we offer at our alcohol treatment centers.


  1. NIH: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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