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What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcoholic drinks & alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning is when alcohol is consumed faster than the body can process it, which may lead to a shutdown of critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. According to the CDC, alcohol poisoning deaths affect people of all ages.

How Much Do You Have to Drink To Get Alcohol Poisoning?

A major cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking, which can lead to death from alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking is defined as a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.

This can happens when:

  • Men consume 5 or more drinks in about 2 hours

  • Women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours

These amounts may vary based on age, weight, health, medication, genetics, gender and what type of alcohol is consumed.

The more you drink, especially in a short period of time, the greater your risk of alcohol poisoning. The level of alcohol in your body continues to rise even when you're unconscious or have stopped drinking.

One drink is defined as:

Definition of one alcholic drink.

Standard US Alcoholic Drinks (adapted from NIAAA)

Signs Of Alcohol Poisoning

Life threatening signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Inability to wake up

  • Vomiting

  • Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute)

  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)

  • Seizures

  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)

  • Bluish skin color, or pale skin color

It's not necessary to have all the above signs before seeking medical help. A person with alcohol poisoning who is unconscious or can't be woken is at risk of death.

Alcohol Poisoning Treatment

A person with alcohol poisoning needs medical attention. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call for emergency medical help right away.

  • Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

  • Be prepared to provide information including type and amount of alcohol consumed, any other drugs, and health conditions.

  • Don't leave an unconscious person alone. Stay with them and help them stay seated but partially upright to prevent choking. Help the person lean over if they vomit or turn them on their side if they are lying down.

  • Coffee, cold showers or walking do not reverse the effects of alcohol poisoning and may cause further harm.

Want to hear about alcohol poisoning from those that have traveled the path to sobriety? Listen to the Sober.Coffee podcast with Mike and Glenn, sharing stories of experience, strength and hope in recovery.

If you’re not sure if your alcohol use is a problem, why don’t we complete a confidential evaluation? Feel free to contact our Illinois rehab at: 630-402-0144


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