*If someone around you is showing serious signs of distress from alcohol, do not wait to call 911.
It is common for a night out with friends to involve heavy amounts of alcohol. About 1 in 6 adults in the United States binge drink four times a month.1 That is a significant percentage of the population drinking far more than they should in a short amount of time. Also, because drinking is often a social event, many people struggle to draw the line between a wild night out and a severe problem. Over 90% of adults in the United States who drink excessively have also reported binge drinking in the last month.2 With how dangerous intoxication can be, our Chicago addiction treatment center is looking at what are some key signs of an alcohol overdose and what you should do in such a situation.
What Is a Heavy Drinker?
This refers to a person that habitually drinks a large amount of alcohol on a regular basis and is defined as having more than 8 drinks per week for women and more than 15 drinks per week for men. On the other hand, binge drinking is defined as consuming more than 4 drinks during a single session for women and 5 drinks for men.3 The number differs from women to men because women’s bodies metabolize alcohol differently than men’s, so one drink will affect a woman more severely than it will affect a man.
The CDC defines a drink as 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.3 This means that you may be drinking more than you realize. While some may argue that binge drinking is fun, it can also come with dangerous consequences. Along with doing something you may regret or even the risk of getting in trouble with the law, binge drinking also comes with a serious risk of alcohol poisoning.
What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening situation that results from drinking too much alcohol in a short amount of time or drinking faster than your liver can process the alcohol. The ethyl alcohol found in alcoholic drinks causes alcohol poisoning by overloading the body when too many drinks are consumed too quickly together. When it occurs, the concentration of alcohol in the blood is too high, and the body struggles to function correctly. Even after a person has finished drinking, their stomach can continue releasing alcohol into the bloodstream, increasing the alcohol concentration of the body.
The result is a series of dangerous and even fatal symptoms if medical attention is not given in time. The next time you think someone just had too much to drink and is fine, you may want to check again for signs of alcohol overdose.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?
Because alcohol poisoning can be deadly, it is important to act quickly. Remembering what some key signs of an alcohol overdose or poisoning are can save a person’s life.
Some common signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Shallow and irregular breathing
- Unconsciousness or unresponsiveness
- Blueish skin
- Slow heartbeat
- Decreased body temperature
- Excessive Vomiting
Alcohol is a depressant, and as alcohol poisoning occurs, the body may continue metabolizing alcohol and worsening the overdose.
What to Do if Someone Is Exhibiting Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
As soon as you notice that someone is showing any signs or symptoms of alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. It is important to act quickly and get them medical attention sooner rather than later. Even if you are underage and intoxicated yourself, it is better to intervene and risk getting in trouble if it means saving your friend’s life. Some states have even passed medical amnesty laws that protect the legal standing of underage intoxicated individuals that seek out medical care for someone suffering from an overdose, despite breaking the law. If ignored, the result may be severe dehydration, brain damage, and even death.
After calling 911, it is also important to stay with the person and monitor them closely. Try to keep the person awake. If they are throwing up, you want to ensure that they do not choke on their own vomit. Keep them upright or turn their head to the side if they are lying down. Once medical personnel arrive, they will be able to assess the person and give them the emergency medical attention they need.
Even if the level of intoxication does not reach alcohol poisoning, heavy alcohol use comes with many concerns. Not only can a single binge-drinking episode be deadly, but there are also several long-term effects of alcohol abuse that can lead to profound consequences on a person’s physical health. Frequent binge drinking may also lead to addiction and the various secondary problems that come with a substance abuse disorder.
Banyan Offers Alcohol Treatment in Chicago
Whether a person is diagnosed with an addiction or is in denial and hiding behind the normalization of excessive drinking in society, these issues should be addressed by clinically trained professionals. While some individuals will take one rough night as a wake-up call, many others will find themselves enticed by the routine that heavy drinking results in. Should it be a consistent issue, there could be a deeper problem at play.
Alcoholism is an extremely dangerous and destructive disease that can result in severely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, financial irresponsibility, and physical and emotional consequences that affect not only the one suffering but those that care about them as well. Therefore, Banyan offers effective treatment programs that specialize in all facets that alcohol addiction can result in. It is here that patients can attend a variety of effective therapeutic methods that will not only paint the picture of the present issue but will also teach them healthier coping mechanisms that can be employed moving forward.
Do not wait until your loved one overdoses on alcohol to get them help. If you suspect that someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse problem, do not hesitate to find them a treatment program.
Sources & References:
- NCBI - Annual Total Binge Drinks Consumed by U.S. Adults, 2015
- CDC - Prevalence of Alcohol Dependence Among U.S. Adult Drinkers, 2009–2011
- CDC - Alcohol Use and Your Health