Millions of Americans consume alcohol every month, every week and even every day. Considering the social and legal acceptance of alcohol you may be surprised to learn that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 2,200 deaths each year in the United States alone, due to alcohol poisoning. That equates to around 6 deaths per day. There are too many people who underestimate the effects of alcohol and don’t know their limits. Alcohol poisoning can occur quickly and without much warning.
Alcohol Poisoning: Signs and Symptoms
Here are some of the telltale signs that someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning.
- Sudden slipping in and out of consciousness.
- Confusion, disorientation, or unresponsiveness.
- Uncontrolled vomiting while conscious or semi-conscious.
- Difficulty breathy.
- Eight or fewer breaths per minute or long lapses of breaths lasting more than eight seconds.
- Clammy, cold, pale or blue (hypothermia) skin.
- Severe body tremors or seizures.
If you see these signs in someone who has been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, you need to stay with them and get them help immediately.
How to Help with Alcohol Poisoning
It’s important to know when one your friends or family members is in danger of alcohol poisoning and what to do to get them the immediate help they need. The very first thing to do is to call 911 right away. After you’ve called 911 and help is on the way, here is what to do about alcohol poisoning.
- Let the poisoned person know when and where if you are going to touch them or move them in any way, as some people may become aggressive.
- Keep them sitting up if possible.
- If it is not possible to keep them sitting, be sure to roll the poisoned person onto their side. It is very important to make sure they stay on their side to prevent asphyxiation by choking on vomit.
- If the poisoned person is conscious, try to get them to slowly drink a bit of water, alcohol and vomiting can cause dehydration.
- Wrap them in a blanket and keep them warm as alcohol poisoning can cause them to feel very cold.
What NOT to do for Someone Who is Experiencing Alcohol Poisoning:
- Number one, do not allow the person to drink any more alcohol.
- Alcohol poisoning effects the gag reflex. Do not attempt to feed the poisoned person, as they may choke on the food due to an inability to swallow or lack of gag reflex.
- Do not give them coffee. The caffeine can cause further dehydration.
- Do not put them in a cold shower to “wake them up.” The cold water can increase the threat of hypothermia.
- Don’t let the person attempt to “sleep it off.” The alcohol is most likely further digesting into their bloodstream and their symptoms may become much worse.
- Do not leave the poisoned person alone.
Getting the individual with alcohol poisoning to the emergency room as soon as possible is vital to prevent permanent damage or possible death from occurring. Once ingested, the alcohol hits the bloodstream within minutes and begins to slow down some of the body’s major functions such as the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. When these particular functions of the body have been suppressed enough by alcohol, the person becomes unconscious and has entered into a life-threatening situation.
The amount of alcohol required to cause one to become unconscious is shockingly close to a fatal amount. Brain damage and death can occur within minutes of alcohol poisoning. Once in professional care, such as the emergency room, doctors can treat alcohol poisoning by using oxygen therapy, giving fluids intravenously to rehydrate the person, and intubation to prevent choking.
Alcohol, though legal, is not to be taken lightly. Avoid binge drinking, know your limits, and be responsible. Don’t let the price for a night of partying be your life. To learn more about what to do about alcohol poisoning, contact A Forever Recovery today.