Binge drinking too much alcohol within a short period of time can cause an individual’s blood alcohol level to become very high. The level of toxicity in the body will rise, eventually leading to alcohol poisoning. When the person becomes disoriented, confused and has shallow breathing it may be a life-threatening emergency if not treated right away. Find out what to know about alcohol poisoning and how to assist someone who may be experiencing symptoms.
A common cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. It occurs when a person drinks household products containing alcohol as well but is a less common way to poison oneself. Alcohol itself is a known toxin which, when absorbed into the bloodstream, goes through the liver which can only process a limited amount. When more than one unit of alcohol is consumed within an hour it can overwhelm the liver and enter the bloodstream. The faster a person drinks, the higher an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) becomes which increases the risk of alcohol poisoning. It is at this stage that a person may start to exhibit symptoms.
The following are some symptoms of alcohol poisoning to keep in mind:
- Decrease in reaction time (or no reactions)
- Loss of consciousness or deep sleep
- Problems breathing
- Weak pulse
- Repeated vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Skin which is moist or cold to touch (hypothermia)
What to Do
The best thing to do if alcohol poisoning is suspected is to call 911 immediately. In the meantime, the following needs to be done before paramedics arrive:
- Keep the individual awake by talking to the person or pinching skin
- Keep the person in a seated position to monitor closely for breathing issues
- Give water (not coffee) to keep hydrated
- Never give more alcohol to drink
- Don’t leave a person to sleep it off or douse with cold water
Once an individual has been admitted into the hospital for alcohol poisoning, the medical team may monitor the individual until alcohol levels have dropped. A tube may be inserted into the windpipe to help with breathing. An IV drip may also be provided to assist with hydration with blood glucose and vitamin levels. Catheters may also be administered to assist with incontinence. Stomach pumping is only done for individuals with very high BAC levels and symptoms which irritate the stomach.
A person suffering from alcohol poisoning may need to seek support for drinking behavior that is out of control. When binge drinking becomes a common occurrence, it is possible treatment will be beneficial in support of recovery. Family and friends can play a critical, supportive role in helping individuals seek treatment.
If you or a loved one are struggling with binge drinking, drinking too much or just want more information on how to know the signs of alcoholism, we are here to help. Hired Power can support your journey to understanding and receiving help for addiction.