It happens when a person drinks a large quantity of alcohol in a short time. Using alcohol with opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and morphine, or illicit opioids, such as heroin, is also a very dangerous combination. Like alcohol, these drugs suppress areas in the brain that control vital functions such as breathing.

Even drinking alcohol while taking over-the-counter antihistamines can be dangerous. If you think that someone has alcohol poisoning, seek medical care right away. For a person to be considered a drunk driver by law, their BAC level must be 0.08 percent or higher.

What to know about alcohol intoxication

When you can’t metabolize alcohol efficiently, the harmful effects on your body occur quickly, have a more dramatic effect, and last longer. When you have alcohol in your system, you may also experience vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), which decreases blood pressure. Vasodilation also causes blood to rush to the skin, potentially leading to hypothermia. Alcohol also disrupts a person’s balance due to its effects on the brainstem and cerebellum. Not only does this cause a lack of physical coordination, which can cause falls or other accidents, but it also contributes to alcohol-induced nausea and vomiting. These are often overlooked, perhaps because people just consider them indications of being „drunk” (i.e., they perceive the condition as impaired, but not serious).

alcohol poisoning

Below we’ll explore some of the factors that can contribute to alcohol poisoning and how long you’ll feel the effects. If you or someone you love is struggling with a drinking problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Naturally, the first step you should do is to call for medical assistance, even if you know how to treat alcohol poisoning. As you watch over the intoxicated person, DO the following to keep them comfortable, safe, and manage their symptoms.

What to Do if Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning

Accurate diagnosis of relies on a clinical examination and diagnostic tests. After an episode of alcohol intoxication, it takes time to recover. The person will be hospitalized until their vital signs return to normal. The stages of intoxication differ from person to person because they’re based on age, sex, weight, and other factors. If you’ve drunk dangerous amounts of alcohol, doctors may „pump” your stomach.

  • This effect decreases the gag reflex, which can make you choke on your own vomit while passed out or sleeping, causing potentially fatal consequences.
  • It is a regular practice to give small amounts of beer to race horses in Ireland.
  • In some countries, there are special facilities, sometimes known as „drunk tanks”, for the temporary detention of persons found to be drunk.
  • These methods cannot remove excess alcohol from the body and, therefore, cannot reduce the effects of alcohol poisoning.
  • In addition, you may be more likely to continue the dangerous pattern of excessive drinking, increasing the likelihood of over-consuming again.

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks. This article discusses the signs, symptoms, and causes of alcohol poisoning. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, alcohol consumption is forbidden,[64] and teetotalism has become a distinguishing feature of its members. Jehovah’s Witnesses allow moderate alcohol consumption among its members.

Alcohol Poisoning and Overdose: Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Overdose

Even when someone stops drinking, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise for minutes, resulting in worsening symptoms. Your doctor can diagnose alcohol poisoning based on your symptoms. They’ll also order blood and urine tests to check your alcohol levels. Alcohol use and taking opioids or sedative hypnotics, such as sleep and anti-anxiety medications, can increase your risk of an overdose. Examples of these medications include sleep aids, such as zolpidem and eszopiclone, and benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and alprazolam.

  • A person can consume a fatal dose of alcohol before passing out.
  • Too much alcohol in your bloodstream causes the areas of your brain that support breathing, heart rate, and other essential life-supporting functions to start to shut down.
  • Below we’ll explore some of the factors that can contribute to alcohol poisoning and how long you’ll feel the effects.
  • Alcohol poisoning also can occur when adults or children accidentally or intentionally drink household products that contain alcohol.
  • If a friend or loved one appears to have alcohol poisoning, call 911 right away.
  • Other long-term complications of heavy alcohol use include addiction, cancer, cirrhosis, liver disease, vitamin deficiencies, and mental health problems.
  • They might “black out” without actually losing consciousness and may not be able to feel pain.

Remember, your friend does not have to have all the symptoms to be at risk. Anyone who cannot be awakened or is unconscious is at risk of warning signs of alcohol poisoning dying. Because of alcohol-induced impairment, it is often assumed that someone who is intoxicated would accept help if able to do so.