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Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms, Causes, Complications, What To Do

Seeking alcohol treatment centers in New Jersey? Get the real facts about alcohol poisoning and alcoholism treatment.

By We Level Up NJ Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: November 4, 2022

Overview Of Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Alcohol poisoning is a serious, and occasionally fatal, side effect of consuming a lot of alcohol quickly. Too much alcohol consumed too rapidly can cause problems with your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and gag reflex as well as possibly cause a coma and even death.

When adults or kids unintentionally or knowingly consume alcohol-containing home goods, alcohol poisoning can also result.

Alcohol poisoning requires emergency medical intervention. To get immediate emergency medical assistance, dial 911 if you think someone may have alcohol poisoning.

When to visit a doctor

Not all of the aforementioned indications or symptoms have to exist before you seek medical attention. Alcohol poisoning patients who are asleep or who cannot be woken run the risk of passing away.

Alcohol poisoning is an urgent situation

Even if you don’t observe the typical signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, you should seek quick medical attention if you have any suspicions. What you should do is:

  • Dial your local emergency number or 911 right away. Never rely on someone recovering from alcohol poisoning to sleep.
  • Be prepared to share details. If you are aware, be sure to let medical staff or emergency workers know what kind, how much, and when the patient drank alcohol.
  • Never leave a person who is unconscious alone. Someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on their own vomit and become unable to breathe because alcohol poisoning alters how the gag reflex functions. Don’t try to make the victim throw up while you wait for assistance; you risk making them choke.
  • Help someone who is throwing up. Make an effort to keep the person seated. Turn the person’s head to the side if they must lie down; this will help them from choking. In order to prevent unconsciousness, make an effort to keep the person awake.

Do not hesitate to seek support.

The wisest course of action is to err on the side of caution when determining whether you believe someone is intoxicated enough to require medical attention. If you’re underage, you could be concerned about the repercussions for you, a friend, or a loved one. However, the results of delaying seeking the correct assistance may be much more severe.

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Alcohol Poisoning Fact Sheet

Also Known As Alcohol Intoxication


Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Overview

A change in behavior or mental state caused by alcohol drinking or afterward.
Alcohol consumption can impair one’s judgment.

Speech slurring, lack of coordination, as well as changes in mood and behavior are all signs of alcohol consumption. Comas can occur occasionally.

Rest, hydration, and quitting drinking are methods for treating alcohol intoxication. Hospitalization, intravenous fluids, observation, and supportive treatment are necessary for severe instances.


How Common Are Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms?

Very typical
Over 3 million cases in the US each year

  • Typically self-curable
  • Frequently self-diagnosable
  • Often necessitates imaging or lab testing
  • Short-term: lasts a few days to a few weeks

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Specialists

Primary care provider (PCP)

Prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases.

Doctor of emergency medicine

Administers care to patients in the emergency room.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Frequently self-diagnosable
Speech slurring, lack of coordination, as well as changes in mood and behavior are all signs of alcohol consumption. Comas can occur occasionally.

People may go through:

Entire body: flushing, dehydration, or blackout

Cognitive: forgetfulness, disorientation, or inaction

Digestive system: nausea or vomiting

Behaviors: hostility or a lack of self-control

Additionally typical are exhilaration, despair, coordination issues, quick involuntary eye movements, and slurred speech.


Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Treatments

Vitamins and water are the mainstays of treatment.

Rest, hydration, and quitting drinking are methods for treating alcohol intoxication. Hospitalization, intravenous fluids, observation, and supportive treatment are necessary for severe instances.

Health procedure
Removal of alcohol

Support services
IV fluids and increasing fluid intake

Medications

Vitamin

Self-care
Abstinence from alcohol and rest

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Statistics

Alcohol poisoning is a serious, and occasionally fatal, side effect of consuming a lot of alcohol quickly. Too much alcohol consumed too rapidly can cause problems with your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and gag reflex as well as possibly cause a coma and even death.


6 a day

In the US, alcohol poisoning claims the lives of six individuals on average each day.

Source: CDC

3 in 4

Adults aged 35 to 64 account for 76% of alcohol poisoning deaths.

Source: CDC

76%

Men make up about 76% of individuals who pass away from alcohol poisoning.

Source: CDC


Levels Of Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Alcohol poisoning symptoms can happen suddenly over a short amount of time.  Therefore, when you are drinking alcohol, you might notice different alcoholism symptoms.  These symptoms will depend on levels or stages of intoxication.

The degree of intoxication varies from person to person based on age, sex, weight, and other determinants.

But generally, there are seven stages of alcohol poisoning and their symptoms. [1]

1. Sobriety Or Low Level Intoxication

If a person has consumed one or fewer drinks per hour, they’re considered sober or low-level intoxicated.

At this stage of intoxication, you will expect that the drinker’s action will have no visible signs of alcohol poisoning, such as slurred speech or delayed reaction time.

Their blood alcohol content (BAC), which measures how much alcohol is in the bloodstream, will be shallow at 0.01 to 0.05 percent.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
Excessive alcohol use can lead to an increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer.

2. Euphoria

If a person has customarily consumed two to three drinks as a man or one to two glasses as a woman in an hour, they’ll join the euphoric stage of alcohol intoxication.

Some Symptoms include:

  • An increase in chattiness and confidence
  • A slowed reaction times
  • Lowered inhibitions

Most people describe this stage of intoxication as being “tipsy.”  A person’s BAC at this stage might range from 0.03 to 0.12 percent.

Note that a BAC of 0.08 percent is the legal limit of intoxication in the United States.  Therefore, a person can be arrested for driving with a BAC above this limit.

3. Excitement

At this stage, a man might have drunk three to five drinks in an hour or two to four drinks for a woman.  At this time, a person will start to feel emotional instability and a significant loss of coordination.

Other Symptoms include:

  • A loss of judgment and memory
  • Vision difficulties
  • Loss of balance
  • Drowsiness

A person will appear visibly “drunk” at this degree.  They’ll have a BAC of 0.09 to 0.25 percent.

4. Confusion

If a man drinks more than five drinks or a woman more than four drinks in an hour, they’ll enter the next stage of alcohol poisoning:  confusion.

This stage of intoxication is distinguished by emotional outbreaks and a significant loss of coordination.  The person may not be able to stand up, may stagger when walking, and will likely be greatly confused about what’s going on.

People in this stage of intoxication are very likely to forget things happening around or to them.  As a result, they might “blackout” without losing consciousness and may not be able to feel pain. This makes them at risk of injury.

At this stage, a person’s BAC is very high.  It’ll range from 0.18 to 0.30 percent.

5. Stupor

At this stage, a person no longer responds to the things happening around or to them.

A person won’t be able to stand or walk.  They may ultimately pass out or lose control over their bodily functions, becoming uncontrolled or vomiting uncontrollably.

They may also experience seizures or have blue-tinged or pale skin.  In addition, their breathing and gag reflexes will likely be weakened.

This stage can be hazardous and fatal if someone chokes on their vomit or becomes critically injured.

Any of these symptoms are signs that immediate medical attention is necessary.  At this stage, a person’s BAC will range from 0.25 to 0.4 percent.

6. Coma

This stage is hazardous.  A person’s breathing and blood circulation will be highly slowed, and motor responses and gag reflexes are nonfunctional.  Their body temperature drops, and the person at this stage is at risk of death.

Their BAC will measure 0.35 to 0.45 percent.  Emergency medical attention is necessary at this point to avoid death and severe health problems.

7. Death

At a BAC of 0.45 percent or above, a person is likely to die from alcohol intoxication.

It may seem like an individual has to drink a lot to get to this stage.  But if you drink very quickly, you may get to this stage.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates excessive alcohol use causes approximately 88,000 deaths annually in the United States. [2]

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7 Most Common Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms FAQs

  1. What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Vs Drunk?

    The main difference is that when a person has an alcohol overdose, they have consumed far too much alcohol, amplifying its lethal effects on the body and mind.

  2. What Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning?

    Symptom of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, abnormal breathing, light skin or skin with a blue tint, decreased body temperature, and being unconscious and unable to be roused.

  3. Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms How Long Do They Last?

    It depends, is the short answer.

    The length of time it takes alcohol to start acting on you and then leave your system can vary depending on a number of variables, including your weight and the number of drinks you’ve consumed recently.

  4. What Are Alcohol Poisoning Death Symptoms?

    Symptom of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, abnormal breathing, light skin or skin with a blue tint, decreased body temperature, and being unconscious and unable to be roused.

  5. What Are Alcohol Poisoning Liver Damage Symptoms?

    The alcohol poisoning liver damage symptoms include feeling ill, losing weight, reduced appetite, eyes and skin that have become yellow (jaundice), ankle edema & stomach discomfort, drowsiness, and passing blood in your stools or vomiting blood.

  6. What Are Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms And Treatment?

    Symptom of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, abnormal breathing, light skin or skin with a blue tint, decreased body temperature, and being unconscious and unable to be roused.

    Alcohol detox can be dangerous, especially if it is done without the help of a professional.

    Delirium Tremens and other withdrawal symptoms that may afflict the client detoxing are hazardous and may even be fatal.  Therefore, it is advisable to detox in a rehab center with access to experienced professionals who can manage any alcohol poisoning symptoms and withdrawal complications.  The medically supervised detox processes allow the body to process the alcohol in the system and gently wean the body off its dependence.  It is the first stage of New Jersey alcohol treatment and one you should seek before your addiction gets worse.

    Those suffering from addiction for long periods at high use rates usually experience more severe withdrawal symptoms, making the process more difficult for them.  The symptoms may seem to get worse through the detox process.  They need constant care and attention to help manage the symptoms.  Alcohol poisoning symptoms treatment is within your reach to ensure your recovery starts on a comfortable and safe step.

    If you, your friend, or your family need help with alcohol poisoning symptoms, contact us today at We Level Up New Jersey, your local alcohol addiction treatment NJ.

  7. What Are Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Long Term?

    Chronic illnesses and other grave issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive issues, can develop over time as a result of heavy alcohol consumption.

Causes Of Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

The standard drink in the US contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. This amount of alcohol is commonly found in:

  • 12 ounces of beer with a 5 percent alcohol content
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor at a 7 percent alcohol content
  • 5 ounces of wine at a 12 percent alcohol content
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (such as rum, vodka, or whiskey) at a 40 percent alcohol content

Alcohol in the form of Ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol) is found in:

Alcohol poisoning symptoms occur from drinking too much alcohol in a short period.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slowly breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Abnormal breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Light skin or skin with a blue tint
  • Decreased body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Being unconscious and unable to be rouse

Short-Term Health Risks Of Drinking Alcohol

  • Alcoholic liquors
  • Some household products like mouthwash and cooking extracts
  • Medications

Apart from alcohol poisoning symptoms, immoderate alcoholism has immediate effects that increase many adverse health conditions.  These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners.  These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women

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Risk Factors Of Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Some people are more at risk of alcohol poisoning symptoms than others.  Factors affecting your risk of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Your Body Type and Weight:   More prominent people absorb alcohol more gradually than smaller people.
  • Your Health Status:  Having particular health issues can put you at greater risk of alcohol poisoning.
  • Whether or not you’ve eaten, having food in your stomach before drinking can slow your body’s absorption of alcohol
  • Whether you’ve blended alcohol with other drugs, consuming certain drugs before drinking can double your risk of alcohol poisoning
  • The Percentage of Alcohol in Your Drinks:  Drinks with a higher rate of alcohol will raise your BAC faster than drinks with a lower percentage of alcohol.
  • Your Rate and Amount of Alcohol Consumption:  Gulping many drinks down puts you at risk of alcohol poisoning.
  • Your Level of Alcohol Tolerance:  People who frequently drink are better able to tolerate alcohol than people who are only occasional drinkers.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Complications

Alcohol poisoning can have serious side effects, including:

  • Choking. Alcohol may make you throw up. You run the risk of choking on vomit if you pass out since it inhibits your gag reflex.
  • Stopping breathing. An unsafe or fatal breathing interruption might result from unintentionally inhaling vomit (asphyxiation).
  • Extremely dehydrated. Dehydration brought on by vomiting can cause dangerously low blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat.
  • Seizures. Seizures could result from a drop in blood sugar that is severe enough.
  • Hypothermia. Your body temperature may drop to a point where cardiac arrest results.
  • Abnormal heartbeat. Alcohol poisoning may result in heart-stopping or beating erratically.
  • Brain injury. Drinking excessively has been linked to permanent brain damage.
  • Death. Any of the aforementioned problems may result in death.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Prevention

Preventing alcohol toxicity by:

  • If you do consume alcohol, do it in moderation. If you decide to consume alcohol, do so sparingly. That means that for healthy individuals, women of all ages and men older than 65 can have up to one drink per day, while males 65 and younger can have up to two drinks per day. When you do consume alcohol, savor it thoroughly.
  • Never drink on an empty stomach. Having some food in your stomach may help to slow down the absorption of alcohol, but it won’t stop alcohol poisoning if you’re binge drinking, for instance.
  • Talk to your teenagers. Inform your kids of the risks associated with alcohol, such as excessive drinking. According to data, kids who report having close ties with their parents and who have received alcohol-related warnings from their parents are less likely to start drinking.
  • Safely store your alcoholic items. Store alcohol-containing items, such as cosmetics, mouthwashes, and prescriptions, out of the reach of small children if you have any. To keep children from accessing household cleaners, utilize the child-proof bathroom and kitchen cupboards. Keep dangerous objects safely out of reach in your garage or storage space. Think about locking up your alcoholic beverages.
  • Get follow-up treatment. Ask about follow-up care if you or your kid has received treatment for alcohol poisoning. You can avoid future binge drinking by scheduling a consultation with a health expert, preferably one who has experience treating chemical dependency.

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Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms Treatment

After an episode of alcohol poisoning symptoms, it takes time to recover.  First, you will be hospitalized until their vital signs return to normal.  This may take days, up to weeks.

Life-long sobriety is achievable with your commitment to stop drinking alcohol.
Life-long sobriety is achievable with your commitment to stop drinking alcohol.

You may encounter a depressed mood and appetite, discomfort, and memory problems during recovery.  However, even if you are released from hospital care, it can take up to a month to feel sound again.

The good news is that it’s achievable to survive alcohol poisoning symptoms if appropriate medical treatment is given promptly.

Detox Approach To Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

Alcohol detox can be dangerous, especially if it is done without the help of a professional.

Delirium Tremens and other withdrawal symptoms that may afflict the client detoxing are hazardous and may even be fatal.  Therefore, it is advisable to detox in a rehab center with access to experienced professionals who can manage any alcohol poisoning symptoms and withdrawal complications.  The medically supervised detox processes allow the body to process the alcohol in the system and gently wean the body off its dependence.  It is the first stage of New Jersey alcohol treatment and one you should seek before your addiction gets worse.

Those suffering from addiction for long periods at high use rates usually experience more severe withdrawal symptoms, making the process more difficult for them.  The symptoms may seem to get worse through the detox process.  They need constant care and attention to help manage the symptoms.  Alcohol poisoning symptoms treatment is within your reach to ensure your recovery starts on a comfortable and safe step.

If you, your friend, or your family need help with alcohol poisoning symptoms, contact us today at We Level Up New Jersey, your local alcohol addiction treatment NJ.

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