In fact, the number of people who fit the definition for alcoholics in the United States has risen 49% from 2000 to 2010.
And with so many people hooked on alcohol, do we really know the effects of alcohol poisoning? How do we tell the difference between a few too many and a medical emergency?
In this article, we’ll go over signs that you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol poisoning, and what to do about it.
- You Don’t Have to Have Alcohol Poisoning for a Crisis to Occur
- Is There a Threshold for Alcohol Poisoning?
- What are the Effects of Alcohol Poisoning?
- What Not to Do If Your Loved One Might Have Alcohol Poisoning
- What Should You Do If Your Loved One is Suffering From Alcohol Poisoning?
- What to Do If You or a Loved One Has an Addiction to Alcohol
You Don’t Have to Have Alcohol Poisoning for a Crisis to Occur
People may erroneously believe that if their friends are “just drunk,” they can leave them at home to sleep it off.
You don’t need to have alcohol poisoning to die after drinking.
A person who has had too much to drink to the point of vomiting needs to be watched if they fall asleep. You must take care to turn them on their side.
You, or a loved one, can die if you allow them to fall asleep on their back. This is because they may vomit and be too intoxicated to wake up, thereby fatally choking.
If you’re in a situation where someone has had a lot to drink but isn’t showing signs of alcohol poisoning, make sure someone stays with them through the night. Do not drop them at their home if there is no one to look after them.
Is There a Threshold for Alcohol Poisoning?
You may think that an individual needs to have drunk a huge amount of alcohol to get alcohol poisoning, but this isn’t always the case.
How much alcohol it takes to get someone dangerously drunk depends on a variety of factors. Their age, their weight, their tolerance and medication they are taking can make the situation much more dangerous much more quickly.
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, don’t discount that they could be at a dangerous point because you haven’t seen them “drink all that much.”
What are the Effects of Alcohol Poisoning?
There are several symptoms you need to look out for if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning.
- Blue or pain skin
- Passing out
- A phase known as a stupor, where a person is conscious but not responding
- Slow breathing
- Losing coordination
- Low body temperature
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek help immediately. Alcohol poisoning can be potentially deadly.
In fact, because of rising alcoholism and binge drinking in the United States, hospital visits related to alcohol poisoning have risen 50% in the last few years.
It is important to be safe rather than sorry. Don’t risk your loved one’s life because you’d rather not spend the money on the co-pay or you’d rather not be bothered to go to the hospital.
You should also be aware that not all of these symptoms need to occur for there to be a problem. Instead, only one or two of them could indicate that your friend or loved one is in serious danger.
What Not to Do If Your Loved One Might Have Alcohol Poisoning
There are a few things people try to do to get someone to “sober up.” If someone has alcohol poisoning, a lot of these things can be incredibly detrimental.
You should not drop someone off at their home and let them “sleep it off.” As mentioned above, consequences could be deadly, especially if the individual is in a stupor. He or she may not be aware enough to wake up to vomit, which can have deadly consequences.
You should also not force the individual, or recommend that they make themselves sick. Some people try to get rid of alcohol by sticking their fingers or other foreign objects down their throat. This can potentially cause other problems, not to mention risks the danger of a foreign object becoming lodged in their throat.
Some people’s gag reflexes don’t work properly when they have alcohol poisoning, and forcing someone to vomit could cause them to choke.
Do not try and make them sick by sticking your fingers down their throat either. Instead, let them throw up if they need to, but do not force it.
Don’t try to walk them around in an attempt to “walk it off.” This does nothing for them and can just create further distractions.
A person who is suffering from alcohol poisoning will also be very cold. Therefore, you shouldn’t stick them in the shower, hot or cold, to try and get them to “snap out of it.” In severe cases, this can cause hypothermia.
If they ask for more alcohol, do not give it to them under any circumstance.
What Should You Do If Your Loved One is Suffering From Alcohol Poisoning?
Get help immediately. If the situation is very severe, call 911 and have an ambulance come to get the individual. If the person can sit in the car, then drive them to the nearest emergency room.
Stay with them and do not leave them alone.
Give them blankets, coats or extra sweatshirts to help warm them up.
Keep them sitting up. If they’re passed out, keep them on their side.
Give them water, if they can keep it down.
What to Do If You or a Loved One Has an Addiction to Alcohol
If you or your loved one has an addiction to alcohol, there is help. And you can detox from it without experiencing some of the terrible side effects.
The effects of alcohol poisoning can be deadly, and so can alcoholism over a long period of time.
If you would like to reach out for help to begin your journey to recovery, reach out to us today.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.