Alcohol Poisoning: Symptoms, Signs, and More

They might “black out” without actually losing consciousness and may not be able to feel pain. This stage of intoxication is marked by emotional outbursts and a major loss of coordination. The person may not be able to stand up, may stagger when walking, and will likely be extremely confused about what’s going on. You should remain with the unconscious person until emergency medical help arrives. Unlike food, which can take hours to digest, the body absorbs alcohol quickly — long before most other nutrients.

This keeps any leftover alcohol from getting into your bloodstream. If you suspect an alcohol overdose and the person is unconscious, do not leave them alone. Celebrating at parties, cheering a favorite sports team, and enjoying get-togethers after work are common ways to relax or be with friends. For some people, these occasions may also include drinking—even binge or high-intensity drinking. But the amount of alcohol in one drink may be much higher than those in the list above.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

A 0.3 blood-alcohol reading is at the minimal level of likely alcohol poisoning. People who want to practice safe drinking can limit their consumption, avoid mixing alcohol with medications or other types of alcohol, and speak with loved ones or a doctor for longer-term support. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the level of alcohol present in a person’s blood after consuming alcohol.

  • Additionally, some drinks, such as mixed drinks, can have more than one serving of alcohol in them.
  • Most people can physically manage moderate amounts of alcohol, but everyone’s ability to metabolize alcohol is different.
  • Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania.

Alcohol at very high levels can hinder signals in the brain that control automatic responses, such as the gag reflex. With no gag reflex, a person who drinks to the point of passing out is in danger of choking on their vomit and dying from a lack of oxygen (i.e., asphyxiation). Even if the person survives, an like this can lead to long-lasting brain damage. A low level of alcohol intoxication causes mild symptoms, while severe intoxication, or alcohol poisoning, can be life threatening.

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There are a number of issues that interfere with the timely diagnosis of alcohol poisoning, and delays can worsen the consequences. As a CNS depressant, a high blood concentration of alcohol can also inhibit respiration, usually resulting in a slow, shallow breathing pattern. During the recovery period, a person may experience a depressed mood and appetite, discomfort, and memory problems.

Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital if you notice signs of alcohol poisoning. Then, do what you can to keep the person safe until help arrives. Never leave someone who is drunk alone, whether they are asleep or awake. If you are concerned that they could hurt you, maintain a safe distance while waiting for professional help. After an episode of alcohol intoxication, it takes time to recover. The person will be hospitalized until their vital signs return to normal.

Check if it’s alcohol poisoning

It also increases the risk of unintentional injuries due to falls, drowning, assault, and car accidents. Teenagers and young adults who drink may be at particular risk for alcohol overdose. Research shows that teens and college-age young adults often engage in binge drinking and high-intensity drinking. Drinking such large quantities of alcohol can overwhelm the body’s ability to break down and clear alcohol from the bloodstream. This leads to rapid increases in BAC and significantly impairs brain and other bodily functions.