All About Alcohol Poisoning

All About Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a serious medical emergency due to the overconsumption of alcohol that can result in death.

Overconsumption of alcohol affects many systems in the body. The liver, which works to eliminate toxins from the body, is not able to keep up with the high amount being ingested. In turn, the central nervous system becomes so depressed to the point that it cannot perform its normal, essential functions such as beating the heart and breathing.

There are many factors that can determine whether or not an individual could suffer from alcohol poisoning, such as:

  • Rate of alcohol consumption
  • Tolerance and dependency levels
  • Height and weight
  • Overall health
  • Amount of food eaten that day
  • Amount of alcohol in drinks and type of alcohol consumed
  • Combining alcohol with other substances

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning are similar to the symptoms of extreme intoxication; however, they are more severe and should be taken very seriously. The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slowed breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • A pause of more than 10 seconds between breaths
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Unconsciousness and can’t be awakened
  • Poor coordination
  • Very slow heartbeat

What Can Happen?

Alcohol poisoning is fatal due to a depression of the nervous system. A depression of the nervous system can result in death in the following ways:

  • Choking on vomit
  • Stopped breathing
  • Dehydration due to vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest due to hypothermia stemming from alcohol poisoning
  • Irregular or slowed heartbeat, causing it to stop completely
  • Brain damage

What to Do If You Suspect Alcohol Poisoning

  • Call 911. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical intervention. Do not leave the individual alone or let them “sleep it off”. If you notice any or all of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is important you call 911 right away.
  • Stay. Alcohol poisoning can lead to vomiting, which can cause choking or dehydration. In addition, a seizure may happen that could require assistance. Make sure you turn the individual on their side and stay with them until emergency personnel arrives. Do what you can to try to keep them awake and alert.
  • Provide as much information as possible. Let the first responders know what type of alcohol the person drank, about how much they drank, and how much they may have eaten that day. This will better inform them of how to treat the individual.
  • Encourage treatment. Once the individual has recovered from alcohol poisoning, present treatment options so the event does not happen again with worse consequences. This is the perfect time to encourage them to stay sober and work on treating their alcohol use disorder.

Understanding Binge Drinking

Since this condition is due to the overconsumption of alcohol within a short period of time, it is important to understand binge drinking and “healthy” drinking habits. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

A drink is considered to be:

  • 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
  • 8 to 9 ounces (237 to 266 milliliters) of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
  • 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)

How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

The good news about alcohol poisoning is that it is easily preventable, even if you drink alcohol regularly. Ways to prevent alcohol poisoning include:

  • Abstain from alcohol. Of course, the easiest way to prevent alcohol poisoning is to avoid alcohol altogether. This is especially true for individuals who have a history of alcohol use disorder or have experienced alcohol poisoning in the past.
  • If you drink, do so in moderation. This means one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and more than two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. By drinking slowly, your body will be better able to keep up and the risk of overdose lowers significantly.
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Make sure you eat before, during, and after drinking to ensure slower digestion and absorption of alcohol. While it won’t prevent alcohol poisoning completely, it can make a difference.

About Cliffside Malibu

Poisoning from alcohol, if survived, can cause long-term damage to the body and brain. Avoiding alcohol is the best way to ensure alcohol poisoning never happens; however, this is easier said than done for many people.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit

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About Jaclyn Uloth