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What is Alcohol Poisoning
When we think of alcohol poisoning most of us conjure up images of frat boys binge drinking until they pass out. While young adults constitute a large percentage of people who experience alcohol poisoning, they are not in the majority. On the contrary, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that, between 2010-2012, 2,221 people aged 15 and older died from complications due to alcohol poisoning, with the majority being men aged 35-64 (75% of the total).
The liver can only metabolize one serving of alcohol per hour. This translates to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 8 ounces of malt liquor, and 1.5 ounces of spirits, such as whiskey, vodka, tequila, and gin. When the body is saturated with high levels of alcohol consumption in a short period of time it reaches a toxic level, or alcohol poisoning. Understanding what is alcohol poisoning treatment can get the medical help needed for this health emergency as quickly as possible.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
How you do know if you have alcohol poisoning and what are the signs and effects? Alcohol poisoning has an adverse effect on several organs and body functions, even becoming life threatening. Because alcohol affects the nervous system as a depressant, the individual will become uncoordinated and can easily lose their balance. The heart and respiratory rates slow and become irregular, which can lead to coma or a heart attack. Seizures can develop due to the drastic drop in blood sugar; the person can choke to death on their vomit; and dehydration, caused by vomiting, can lead to brain damage.
When someone begins to exhibit the following symptoms, call for help:
- Inability to walk or stand. Lack of physical coordination.
- Fades into stupor or unconsciousness
- Confused and disoriented
- Cold, clammy skin
- Vomiting and choking
- Chills and hypothermia
- Shallow breathing
- Pale skin
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Blue-tinged skin around lips
What is Alcohol Poisoning Treatment
The first responders who arrive at the scene can immediately begin life-saving interventions that will help stabilize the individual during transit to a hospital. Once admitted, the medical providers will immediately take several proactive measures. These include intubating the patient to support breathing and reduce the danger of choking, providing oxygen therapy, administering IV fluids, including vitamins and glucose, pump the stomach to remove any residual alcohol, and monitor vitals constantly.
Because binge drinking is considered an alcohol use disorder, the individual should then enter an inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment program. The program will provide individual and group therapy, as well as addiction education, which can help the individual change the self-destructive drinking habits before an alcohol dependency, or worse, occurs.
What Not To Do in the Event of Alcohol Poisoning
Some urban legends still persist regarding what to do when someone’s drinking has reached a toxic level. Contrary to these myths, it is not helpful to the individual in need of emergency medical treatment to think that they can just sleep it off, or that drinking caffeinated beverages or taking a cold shower can remedy the person’s severe intoxication.
There are important measures to take while waiting for medical assistance. Do not have the person lie on their back, keep them sitting up. If they must lie down, turn their head to the side to prevent them from choking on vomit. Do not give them any food or medications. Stay with the individual until help arrives.
Seeking Alcohol Treatment Program
The Treatment Specialist will connect you to a treatment center that can help you with abuse and binge drinking issues that lead to alcohol poisoning. The treatment center has extensive experience and knowledge regarding alcohol use disorder and alcohol poisoning. If it is determined that the individual has an alcohol use disorder, a Treatment Specialist can guide the family toward an inpatient or residential alcohol treatment program. For information about an alcohol treatment program, please contact a Treatment Specialist now at (866) 644-7911.