Alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or educational attainment, anytime, anywhere. Alcohol poisoning happens whether one drinks infrequently or regularly. The danger is real and can lead to death. According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes large amounts of alcohol quickly. “[A]lcohol poisoning can occur when adults or children accidentally or intentionally drink household products that contain alcohol.”

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If you are with someone suffering from these symptoms, call for emergency help immediately.

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • The skin has a blue, grey, or pale tint
  • Low body temperature
  • Trouble staying awake 
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Urinating or defecating on one’s self

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), college students view heavy drinking as a ritual. Binge drinking, high-intensity drinking, or downing many alcoholic beverages is defined as drinking MORE than five drinks within 2 hours for men and four drinks for women. Many students will imbibe twice that amount! 

The NIAAA estimates that 1,519 college students died from alcohol-related accidents, unintentional such as driving. College-aged students experiencing assaults related to drinking has been as high as 696,000.

There are far more statistics, such as rape, poor grades, and mental health issues all arising from drinking. It should be stated that alcohol overdose or alcohol poisoning can lead to brain damage.

Though a person may stop drinking after binging on alcohol, the stomach and the intestines continue to release alcohol into the bloodstream, and the blood alcohol level continues to rise.

What is the Blood Alcohol Level?

Blood alcohol level, or BAC, is the amount of alcohol in your blood. Ethyl alcohol or ethanol, the alcohol ingredient in beer, wine, and liquor, enters your stomach upon consuming a drink. Some drinks have higher levels of alcohol than others; regardless, alcohol is immediately absorbed into the blood barrier through the stomach and the intestines. The liver works to filter out the alcohol toxins; however, if a person is binge drinking or drinking a lot, the liver cannot filter the alcohol. The BAC then increases, and intoxication occurs. The alcohol levels in drinks vary from drink to drink. Some craft beers can have four times the alcohol level of regular beer.

Alcohol and Brain Function

Alcohol travels to the brain through the blood barrier. The substance interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, impacting how the brain works. The areas most usually affected are those that control balance, memory, speech, and judgment. For those who drink regularly and a lot, the brain neurons will experience a size reduction. Often, you hear people say they cannot remember what they said or did after an episode of heavy drinking. This phenomenon happens when too much alcohol affects the brain’s ability to transfer short-term memories to long-term storage (also known as memory consolidation). Most usually referred to as a blackout. Because alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the brain, slowing your breathing, heart rate, and other bodily functions. Blackouts are dangerous as a person can end up in a perilous situation.

There is evidence demonstrating the health-related harms of drinking too much. Research has shown a direct link between alcohol and cancer. Other ailments include stroke, throat cancer, breast and mouth cancer, heart disease, liver disease, damage to the nervous system, and in more severe drinking situations, the condition known as Wet Brain can occur, as well as alcohol dementia. One’s height, weight, sex, and health will also determine how alcohol interacts with the body. Additionally, if someone does not eat before drinking, the alcohol is absorbed more rapidly. 

How Severe are Alcohol Deaths from Alcohol Poisoning?

Between 2015 and 2019, more than 140,000 deaths were due to excessive alcohol use.

That makes it the 4th leading PREVENTABLE cause of death in the US. In 2021, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 13,384 deaths, or 31% of driving fatalities. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the second most common mental health disorder involved in 1 of every four suicides.” The number of people suffering from AUD vastly outnumbers those suffering from opioid addiction.

Older Adults, Alcohol Use, and Alcohol Poisoning

According to the NIAAA, the number of older adults abusing alcohol is increasing. “[D]ata from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that approximately 20 percent of adults aged 60-64 and around 11 percent over age 65 report current binge drinking.” The older one is, the lower the body’s tolerance to manage alcohol. Some of this is due to prescription use that interacts with alcohol. Binge drinking can lead older adults to experience balance problems and falls, resulting in bone fractures and breaks since bones are more fragile as people age.

Complications from Alcohol Poisoning

  • Choking on one’s vomit
  • Trouble breathing due to vomit in the lungs
  • Severe dehydration
  • Coma
  • Brain damage
  • Heart attack
  • Death

According to WebMD, those at the most significant risk of alcohol poisoning are men and middle-aged adults. Men drink more than women, and middle-aged men are more likely to take prescription drugs. 

If you are with someone who is exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning, or if you are struggling to breathe, or stay awake, etc., you should immediately call for emergency assistance. Do not leave an individual exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning alone; cover them/with a blanket; if they have passed out, turn the individual onto his/her/their side.

Treatment For AUD Works

If you or a loved one is suffering from binge drinking or regularly drinks to excess, help is available. Professionally provided treatment can help break the cycle of alcohol abuse and provide the tools needed to stop relapsing. 

Before your life or your loved one’s health and life are destroyed by alcohol, call us today and speak to one of our trained staff. Your questions will be answered in a caring, compassionate, confidential manner. 

Don’t let fear stop you from regaining control of your or the life of a loved one. Call now.