Many people enjoy alcohol as a way to relax and cut loose with friends, but drinking can be dangerous. In sufficient concentrations, alcohol is a potentially deadly poison. If you enjoy binge drinking or go to parties where people drink heavily, it is important to recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning. Being able to recognize the difference between someone who is just drunk and someone who is suffering from alcohol poisoning can mean the difference between life and death.
Alcohol poisoning is a dangerous condition caused by drinking too much alcohol in a short period of time. In large concentrations, alcohol is extremely toxic to the body, and can cause brain damage or death. According to alcohol-information.com, there are about 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning every year in the United States, and about one death a week.
Victims of alcohol poisoning early on will display signs of extreme drunkenness, such as slurred speech, poor coordination and a strong smell of alcohol. They may seem confused and uncommunicative. Their alcohol poisoning can also include: Uncontrolled vomiting Seizures Very slow or irregular breathing Unconsciousness progressing to coma Skin pallor or a blue tinge to the skin Hypothermia
What is Happening
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. According to the website Talking Alcohol, when someone consumes too much alcohol, it slows the rate of breathing too much. The brain cannot get enough oxygen and, eventually, shuts down the parts of the nervous system that control breathing and the heart, leading to death.
Inexperienced drinkers are more likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning than others. They have lower tolerances, and don't know how to pace themselves so as not to drink too much at once. Drinkers in their teens and early twenties often engage in binge drinking, which puts them at risk.
Alcohol poisoning causes unconsciousness before death. There is a difference between deciding to go to sleep somewhat drunk and passing out. If someone has passed out from drinking, do not leave him to "sleep it off." His blood alcohol could continue to rise even after he has fallen asleep, resulting in death.
What to Do
When in doubt, call an emergency number. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you immediately call 911 if the person is unconscious. If the person is conscious, call the Poison Control at 800-222-1222. Trained professionals will help you to decide whether or not you are dealing with a medical emergency that requires you to get the person to the hospital.