What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning can be an extremely dangerous condition that occurs when you drink alcohol faster than your body can process it. It can lead to serious health conditions and the latest figures have revealed that 552 deaths in the UK in 2020 were caused by acute alcohol poisoning.

There isn’t a minimum amount of alcohol that causes alcohol poisoning, in fact symptoms of alcohol poisoning can start as soon as the alcohol is consumed.


Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

There are some telling sings of alcohol poisoning, which can help you better understand if somebody is suffering from it. These symptoms can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Being unable to coordinate movement
  • Sickness
  • Incontinence
  • Fits and seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

Alcohol poisoning can lead to a drop in body temperature and in the most serious cases can lead to a heart attack or even cause someone to stop breathing, so it is crucial that you recognise the signs and symptoms.

It is important to note that alcohol poisoning can affect any person, whether they are regular drinkers or not. What’s more, symptoms of alcohol poisoning can vary depending on the person’s genetic make up and their alcohol intake. For example, some of the factors that play in determining the symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Age
  • Size
  • How fast they have been drinking
  • How much they have been drinking
  • General health
  • Whether any medication or drugs have been taken.


Causes of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is typically caused by binge drinking which is when someone drinks a lot of alcohol, quickly, in one session. It occurs when someone consumes alcohol at a quicker rate than their body can filter the alcohol out of the bloodstream.

Binge drinking, or alcohol overdose, is defined as five drinks or more within two hours for men, and four drinks or more within two hours for women.

Put simply, too much alcohol in the bloodstream means the body cannot function properly which can be life-threatening. However, it is important to remember that people respond differently to alcohol. Some might be able to drink more alcohol with fewer effects compared to other people.

You might also be wondering, ‘How much alcohol causes poisoning?’ There isn’t a set number of drinks that will lead to this, but it is important to know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning.


How Long Does Alcohol Poisoning Last for?

Alcohol poisoning can last for several hours and it can take days for an individual to feel their normal self again after consuming alcohol. The effects of alcohol poisoning can begin as soon as there is too much alcohol in the system for the body to cope with. This is because consuming alcoholic drinks increases your BAC or blood alcohol concentration. As this increases, so does the risk of alcohol poisoning and alcohol poisoning effects.

  • 0 to 0.05% BAC – Individuals are likely to feel sleepy or relaxed and may have mild coordination, speech and memory issues.
  • 06 to 015% BAC –  Driving skills, memory, coordination and speech are significantly affected. Some people may also be aggressive.
  • 16 to 0.30% BAC – Memory, speech and coordination continue to be affected and decision-making skills are impaired. Some people may also experience vomiting and loss of consciousness.
  • 31 to 0.45% BAC – At this stage, the risk of serious and life-threatening alcohol poisoning is severe. Breathing and heart rate are depressed too.

An individual’s BAC levels will continue to rise up to 40 minutes after their last drink. So, if you’ve consumed a large amount of alcohol, you could be at risk of alcohol poisoning, long after you’ve stopped drinking.


Treatment for Alcohol Poisoning

If you’re worried that a loved one may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, it’s important to get them the right help fast. This is because alcohol poisoning requires medical assistance and symptoms can become worse very quickly. In serious cases, alcohol poisoning can even lead to complications like heart failure and liver failure which can be fatal.

For this reason, you need to take the individual to the hospital.

At hospital, they will be given fluids via a drip and individuals may also be supported with their breathing. Symptoms will be monitored and if necessary medical professionals can also carry out a procedure which is known as stomach pumping to rid the body of the alcohol.

Typically, individuals will stay in the hospital until the alcohol has worn off and the signs of alcohol poisoning have faded and they’re stable.


How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can be a very serious condition but with a few simple steps for alcohol poisoning prevention, you can reduce the risk of it happening and needing alcohol poisoning treatment.

  • Give yourself a limit when it comes to the number of alcoholic drinks you’re going to have
  • Ensure you eat a healthy and hearty meal before you start drinking to aid alcohol absorption
  • Drink a lot of water and soft drinks in between alcohol to limit the number of alcoholic drinks
  • Stay with friends or loved ones and look out for others
  • Know the signs and symptoms as well as how much alcohol your body can typically tolerate
  • Don’t be afraid to say no if you’ve had enough to drink
  • Understand the signs of alcohol addiction

If you’re worried about your own alcohol consumption or that of a loved one then the team at Asana Lodge are here to help too at our alcohol rehab. Not only do we offer a safe and supportive space for people to recover from alcohol addiction and abuse but we can answer your questions too and help you to start living a healthier life away from alcohol toxicity.

In fact, that’s exactly what we’ve done for so many people whose lives were being taken over by alcohol abuse and addiction. Simply get in touch with our team today if you need some support for either yourself or a loved one.

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