When Having “Only One Drink” Turns to Alcohol Poisoning

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When Having “Only One Drink” Turns to Alcohol Poisoning

“How can a person possibly go from one drink to alcohol poisoning?” you might ask. In cases where alcohol abuse or addiction is present, it is entirely possible. After all, these individuals cannot control how much they drink. They try their best to limit their alcohol intake, but they always seem to fail.

Does this ever happen to you? A friend asks you to go out after work for a drink and you say, “Sure, but I can only have one drink. I have lots to do at home tonight.” But, then you stay out drinking until the bar closes down at two o’clock, three o’clock, or even later. This scenario takes place in bars more than you might think.

After all, some people cannot limit the amount they drink. They have the best intentions of only having one or two drinks. However, they cannot limit the amount of alcohol they consume when socializing with others, or even alone for that matter. We all know that person that begins drinking and doesn’t stop until the evening is over or they have passed out from the alcohol consumption. Only one drink to alcohol poisoning can and does happen and can be fatal.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual consumes a high level of alcohol in a short period of time or continues to consume alcohol over a long period.  Your body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol at a time, no matter what your gender, age, weight, or alcohol tolerance. The more you drink, the higher your blood alcohol content (BAC) becomes.

Most people don’t realize that your BAC continues to rise even after your last drink. It takes time to process and doesn’t stop with the last swallow you take of the alcohol. Therefore, your one drink of alcohol poisoning can occur before you might think. The human body can only break down the toxins from alcohol over time. Alcohol poisoning can become very aggressive and fatal very quickly.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Importantly, everyone needs to know the signs of alcohol poisoning. It can happen and you think your friend is extremely intoxicated when actually they are suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Some of the signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of balance and coordination
  • Confusion
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Irregular pulse
  • Inability to walk
  • Depressed breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Conscious but unresponsive
  • Cold, clammy skin with a bluish tint
  • Choking
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Seizures

If someone is showing signs of alcohol poisoning, try to keep them sitting up and awake. Also, if they are unconscious or passed out, put them on their side so if they vomit, they won’t choke on their vomit. However, if they are conscious, give them water which will help to hydrate them.

In fact, coffee should never be given as it will only dehydrate them more and the dehydration could affect the brain. Try to keep them warm if they look like they may be suffering from hypothermia.

Above all, do not leave them. Stay with them and monitor their breathing and other symptoms. Even if you think this person is only extremely drunk, never leave them to sleep it off. Their blood alcohol content in their bloodstream could keep rising leading to fatal consequences.

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College Kids, Binge Drinking, and Alcohol Poisoning

Binge drinking is probably the number one cause of alcohol poisoning. College kids are notorious for binge drinking and most college kids are unaware of the many dangerous consequences that can come along with this practice.

In fact, many college students do not see any harm in drinking alcohol because it is a legal substance. They don’t stop to think that even though it is legal, you can still overdo it, wherein it becomes a very dangerous substance.

Every year as a new school year begins for college students, we hear of initiations into fraternities and other hazing rituals that end up with the death of a student from alcohol poisoning. One such incident occurred at Penn State. This student died, partly because the other members of the fraternity were also intoxicated and did not realize how serious his injuries were or that he had alcohol poisoning.

It was estimated that this student’s blood alcohol content was almost .40! He had sustained numerous injuries to his body from falls, even falling down a flight of stairs. During the hazing ritual, he was forced to drink beer, vodka from a bottle, and wine from a bag. Sadly, this was a tragedy in the making.

One Drink to Alcohol Poisoning

Abuse of alcohol by you or someone you care about can quickly turn from one drink to alcohol poisoning. You can try to cut back on your drinking, but it always ends to no avail. Alcohol addiction is very common in the United States. Even though you realize that you need to stop abusing alcohol, the majority of individuals cannot do it on their own and more than likely neither can you.

Don’t wait until alcohol poisoning ends tragically for you or someone you care about. Seek professional help from addiction specialists at an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center. Entering an inpatient treatment facility will assure you a safe detoxification process in a comfortable environment. From there, you will have a treatment program designed for your individual needs and preferences.

You can return to the life you had before alcohol abuse or addiction. Fortunately, you can go on to live a sober, productive, healthy and happy life. Don’t let one drink to alcohol poisoning be your destiny. Seek help today!


  • niaaa.nih.gov – Overview of Alcohol Consumption

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