According to a January 2015 CDC report, six people (usually men between the ages of 35 and 64) die each day from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning usually occurs when a person consumes alcohol at a faster rate than the body can metabolize it, leading to toxicity. Alcohol poisoning most often affects people who binge drink (or consume four to five alcoholic beverages over a two-hour period).
Recent studies indicate more than 38 million Americans engage in regular binge drinking contributing to the high numbers of accidental alcohol overdose deaths. Those numbers don’t include the tens of thousands of non-lethal overdoses reported by emergency rooms each year. Regular binge drinking appears to correspond with weekend social outings and after work activities, though anyone who engages in excessive drinking on at least one occasion is in danger of developing alcohol poisoning.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone can succumb to alcohol poisoning, if they drink excessively, however, certain pockets of populations appear to engage in binge drinking more regularly. About one in six adults drink excessively more than four times each month. Most binge drinkers are between the ages of 18 and 34 years old with reported household incomes grossing $75,000 annually. While binge drinking is common on college campuses, the majority of binge drinkers are 26 years or older. However, 90 percent of individuals who engage in drinking before the legal age of 21, participate in binge drinking.
Another misconception about the risk of alcohol poisoning is that it only happens to alcohol-addicted people. Anyone who drinks excessively over a short period of time, regardless of whether they are addicted or not, is at risk of alcohol poisoning. And while certain factors may make someone less apt to feel the affects of alcohol at the same rate as others, this puts them at no less risk of death from alcohol poisoning, if blood alcohol levels are significantly elevated.
Signs And Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning
Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include disorientation or confusion, vomiting, slowed breathing, loss of consciousness, seizures, and low body temperature. Someone showing one or more of these symptoms after drinking excessively should seek medical attention immediately. Do not leave a person suffering with these symptoms to “sleep it off” as a person could stop breathing or aspirate if left untreated.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning Include:
- Disorientation or confusion
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Low body temperature
If someone has been drinking excessively, it is important they are not allowed to return home alone. While it is best not to engage in activities that include excessive drinking, the risk of overdose death can be reduced where there is some perception of onset of the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning that can initiate an immediate medical response. Even if a person appears only mildly intoxicated, blood alcohol levels will continue to rise for a few hours following the last drink.
How Is Alcohol Poisoning Treated?
The treatment of alcohol poisoning usually involves palliative care, in which basic cardiac and breathing functions are carefully monitored and supported while the body naturally flushes toxins. Maintaining an airway is also critical, especially if the person has been vomiting.
In extreme cases, hemodialysis, a method of filtering toxins from the blood, may be employed. Hemodialysis involves a machine containing an artificial filter, similar to the human liver, through which blood is pumped and filtered to reduce toxicity and improve a person’s chance of survival.
Prevention Of Alcohol Poisoning
Obviously, the best way to prevent alcohol poisoning, is to drink moderately. Moderate drinking is actually one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks for men per day. You’re not likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning from drinking more than this, but can still suffer from other long term effects of excessive drinking.
If you do plan to drink more, make sure you’ve eaten. Drinking on an empty stomach allows alcohol to enter the bloodstream faster than it would otherwise. Also drinking at a slower pace (limit to one drink or less per hour) will reduce the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Do not combine alcohol with other prescription medications or illicit drugs. Drinking with at least one sober person as part of your group can reduce your chances of being involved in a auto-related or other accident, and can also improve your chances of survival if someone is able drive you to the hospital or notify medical personnel in case signs or symptoms of alcohol poisoning appear.
Most importantly, be vigilant and look for signs of alcohol poisoning if you see a friend is drinking excessively. Insist on seeking medical attention, even if they protest. You might save their life.
Reduce the Risk of Alcohol Poisoning When Drinking:
- Drink in moderation (one drink or less per day for women; two for men)
- Do not drink on an empty stomach
- Drink at a slower pace (no more than one drink or less per hour)
- Do not combine alcohol with prescription or illicit drugs
- Include a designated driver and “caretaker”
- Be vigilant and know the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning
Alcohol Addiction Requires Comprehensive Support
If you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol, AlcoholTreatment.net is available 24/7 to connect you with the online resources, professional support, and treatment options best able to meet your individual needs.
Contact AlcoholTreatment.net today; we are here to guide you toward a brand new life.