Mar 25

Responsible drinking

beerIt’s Your Health

Alcohol is a drug: a depressant that slows down your body’s central nervous system. Depending on how much you drink, alcohol can affect your concentration, speech, balance, vision, coordination, judgment and overall health.

The effects of alcohol depend on many factors:

  • your sex (male or female)
  • your body size
  • how much you usually drink
  • how quickly you drink
  • your mood
  • the amount you have eaten
  • your past experiences with drinking

Short-term effects of too much alcohol

If you have too much to drink you may experience many short-term effects, including:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • slurred speech
  • loss of coordination skills
  • inability to think and judge clearly
  • inability to estimate distances and decreased reaction times

Long-term Effects of Too Much Alcohol

You may be drinking too much on a long-term basis if you notice any of the following:

  • the need to drink more to feel the same ‘high’
  • a lot of money is being spent on alcohol
  • poor appetite, jumpiness, insomnia or sweating when not drinking
  • blackouts when drinking or not remembering drinking
  • bouts of confusion or memory loss

The health risks of too much alcohol

Long-term heavy drinking can cause many chronic health problems, including:

  • liver damage
  • heart disease
  • stomach ulcers
  • blood vessel disorders
  • impotency in men
  • menstrual irregularities in women
  • some types of cancer

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum

Recent studies have suggested that drinking even a moderate amount of alcohol when pregnant may damage the fetus, causing a range of health problems including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The bottom line is, the safest option during pregnancy, or when planning to become pregnant, is to not drink alcohol at all.

Of the estimated 3,000 deaths each year from motor vehicle crashes, approximately 40 per cent are attributed to alcohol. Heavy drinking can also lead to serious professional, family, financial and legal problems, any of which can affect your health.

Additional tips:

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Your risk of injury increases with each additional drink.
  • Eat something before drinking, or drink with meals. It is important not to drink on an empty stomach.
  • Try alternating alcoholic beverages with caffeine-free non-alcoholic drinks to limit the amount you drink in any three-hour period.
  • Drink only if you want to. Don’t feel pressured into accepting a drink.
  • Don’t drive. Take a taxi or public transportation, walk, or decide who will be the designated driver before the party starts.

Related Reading:

Alcohol lied to me (the intelligent escape from alcohol addiction)
7 Weeks to Safe Social Drinking: How to Effectively Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
The Wisdom to Know the Difference: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Workbook for Overcoming Substance Abuse (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol (2nd edition)
Mar 24

Alcohol Damages Memory

This image shows a red wine glass.

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ALCOHOL DAMAGES DAY-TO-DAY MEMORY FUNCTION

  • Researchers know that heavy alcohol use damages retrospective memory.
  • New research shows that heavy alcohol use also damages day-to-day memory, which
  • includes prospective memory (remembering to do things at some future point in time) and everyday memory (remembering to complete daily activities).
  • This damage occurred within drinking limits suggested by U.K. government guidelines.

Research has shown that heavy alcohol use clearly damages

  • retrospective memory, that is, the learning, retention and retrieval of previously presented materials. Less is known about the effects of alcohol on day-to-day memory function, specifically,
  • prospective memory (remembering to do things at some future point in time) and
  • everyday memory (remembering to complete daily activities).

A study in the June issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research uses Internet-based technology to find that heavy alcohol consumption has a negative impact on day-to-day memory.

  • “Prospective memory impairments include things like forgetting to send someone a birthday card on time, or forgetting what you’re going to say in the middle of a sentence,” said Jonathan Ling.
  • “Everyday memory failures include telling someone a story that you’ve told them before, or forgetting where things are normally kept.

Obviously we all forget things from time to time, however, heavy users of alcohol make noticeably more of these mistakes than either non- or low-users of alcohol.” Ling added that most of what is known about heavy drinkers’ retrospective memory function is based on laboratory research, and even less is known about alcohol’s effects on normal memory-related tasks that people perform from day-to-day.

For this study, researchers collected data from 763 participants (465 female, 298 males) using a specially created Web site. Memory was assessed using two self-report questionnaires: Respondents also self-reported their level of use of alcohol and other drugs.

The results indicate an amount-dependent effect of alcohol use on day-to-day memory function. “We found that heavy users of alcohol reported making consistently more errors than those who said that they consumed little or no alcohol,” said Ling.

  • “A typical heavy user of alcohol reported over 30% more memory-related problems than someone who reportedly did not drink, and
  • almost 25% more problems than those who stated they drank only small amounts of alcohol.

More specifically, those participants who reported higher levels of alcohol consumption were more likely to miss appointments, forget birthdays and not pay bills on time. Deficits in everyday memory included problems with remembering whether they had done something like locking the door or switching off the lights, or forgetting where they put items like house keys.”

Colin Martin, said “This study is important because it extends our knowledge of alcohol-related memory impairment to everyday situations that most people can identify with, in contrast to laboratory-based memory tasks.”

“We also found a significant increase in reported memory problems by people who claimed to drink between 10 and 25 units each week in comparison to non-drinkers,” added Ling. One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of 10 ml of ethanol; roughly half a pint of beer or one small glass of wine. Current U.K. guidelines for maximum safe units per week are 21 units for women and 28 units for men. “This is an important finding, as it indicates that even if people are using alcohol within the limits suggested by U.K. government guidelines, these individuals still report experiencing memory problems.”

Martin concurred. “Interested readers may wish to reflect on the relevance of government recommended safe drinking limits, since decreased memory performance was observed even within what is generally acknowledged as safe drinking levels,” he said. “Recommended levels may be safe for the liver, but we can’t be sure that they represent safe limits for optimum brain function.”

Article is based on the following published research: Ling, J., Heffernan, T.M., Buchanan, T., Rodgers, J., Scholey, A.B., Parrott, A.C. (June 2003). Effects of alcohol on subjective ratings of prospective and everyday memory deficits. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 27(6), 970-975.

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Mar 21

Acamprosate May Be Helpful to Treat Alcohol Dependence

Acamprosate May Be Helpful to Treat Alcohol Dependence.

September 13, 2010 — Acamprosate appears to be effective and safe for supporting continuous abstinence after detoxification in alcohol-dependent (alcoholic) patients, according to the results of a systematic review reported September 8 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

“Alcohol dependence is among the main leading health risk factors in most developed and developing countries,” write Susanne Rösner, from the University of Munich in Munich, Germany, and colleagues. “Therapeutic success of psychosocial programs for relapse prevention is moderate, but could potentially be increased by an adjuvant treatment with the glutamate antagonist acamprosate.”

Full story at Acamprosate May Be Helpful to Treat Alcohol Dependence.

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Mar 20

12 Step Groups for Drug Abuse

Fellowship in 12 step groups Twelve-Step groups emphasize abstinence and have 12 core developmental “steps” to recovering from dependence.

Other elements of 12-Step groups include

  • taking responsibility for recovery,
  • sharing personal narratives,
  • helping others, and
  • recognizing and incorporating into daily life the existence of a higher power.

Participants often maintain a close relationship with a sponsor, an experienced member with long-term abstinence, and lifetime participation is expected.

Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest and best known 12-Step mutual support group. There are more than 100,000 AA groups worldwide and nearly 2 million members.

The AA model has been adapted for people with dependence on drugs and for their family members. Some groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Chemically Dependent Anonymous, focus on any type of drug use. Other groups, such as Cocaine Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous, focus on abuse of specific drugs. Groups for persons with co-occurring substance use and mental disorders also exist (e.g., Double Trouble in Recovery; Dual Recovery Anonymous).

Other 12-Step groups—Families Anonymous, Al-Anon/Alateen, Nar-Anon, and Co-Anon—provide support to significant others, families, and friends of persons with substance use disorders.

Twelve-Step meetings are held in locations such as churches and public buildings. Metropolitan areas usually have specialized groups, based on such member characteristics as gender, length of time in recovery, age, sexual orientation, profession, ethnicity, and language spoken. Attendance and membership are free, although people usually give a small donation when they attend a meeting.

Meetings can be “open” or “closed”?that is, anyone can attend an open meeting, but attendance at closed meetings is limited to people who want to stop drinking or using drugs.

Although meeting formats vary somewhat, most 12-Step meetings have an opening and a closing that are the same at every meeting, such as a 12-Step reading or prayer.

The main part of the meeting usually consists of

  1. members sharing their stories of dependence, its effect on their lives, and what they are doing to stay abstinent,
  2. the study of a particular step or other doctrine of the group, or
  3. a guest speaker.

Twelve-Step groups are not necessarily for everyone. Some people are uncomfortable with the spiritual emphasis and prefer a more secular approach. Others may not agree with the 12-Step philosophy that addiction is a chronic disease, thinking that this belief can be a self-fulfilling prophesy that weakens the ability to remain abstinent. Still others may prefer gender- specific groups.

Mutual support groups that are not based on the 12-Step model typically do not advocate sponsors or lifetime membership. These support groups offer an alternative to traditional 12-Step groups, but the availability of in-person meetings is more limited than that of 12-Step programs (see individual group descriptions below). However, many offer literature, discussion boards, and online meetings.

For People Who Have a Substance Use Disorder

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Mar 16

Alcohol & Risks to Men’s Health

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Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men’s Health

Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Excessive drinking is associated with significant increases in short-term risks to health and safety, and the risk increases as the amount of drinking increases. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (e.g., drive fast or without a safety belt), when combined with excessive drinking, further increasing their risk of injury or death.

Drinking levels for men

  • Approximately 62% of adult men reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and were more likely to binge drink than women (47%) during the same time period.
  • Men average about 12.5 binge drinking episodes per person per year, while women average about 2.7 binge drinking episodes per year.
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
  • It is estimated that about 17% of men and about 8% of women will meet criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.

Injuries and deaths as a result of excessive alcohol use

  • Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women.
  • Among drivers in fatal motor-vehicle traffic crashes, men are almost twice as likely as women to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater).
  • Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and, as a result, can increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.
  • Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and more likely to have been drinking prior to committing suicide.

Reproductive Health and Sexual Function

Excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair.

Excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Impaired judgment caused by alcohol may worsen the tendency of some men to mistake a women’s friendly behavior for sexual interest and misjudge their use of force. Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.

Cancer

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men.

There are a number of health conditions affected by excessive alcohol use that affect both men and women. Some additional conditions are covered in the Alcohol Use and Health Fact Sheet.

See also

Take Control of Your Drinking Problem…and You May Not Even Have to Quit by Michael S. Levy

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Mar 14

Drinking and Driving

Drinking and Driving: A Threat to Everyone

U.S. drivers got behind the wheel after drinking too much about 112 million times in 2010.

Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.

Though episodes of drinking and driving have gone down by 30% during the past 5 years, it remains a serious problem. Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009.

Certain groups are more likely to drink and drive than others.

  • Men were responsible for 4 in 5 episodes (81%) of drinking and driving in 2010.
  • Young men ages 21-34 made up only 11% of the U.S. population in 2010, yet were responsible for 32% of all instances of drinking and driving.
  • 85% of drinking and driving episodes were reported by people who also reported binge drinking. Binge drinking means 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women during a short period of time.

Some likely alcohol effects on driving

bac

Adapted from The ABCs of BAC, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2005, and How to Control Your Drinking, WR Miller and RF Munoz, University of New Mexico, 1982.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)*

Typical Effects

Predictable Effects on Driving

.02%

Some loss of judgment

Relaxation

Slight body warmth

Altered mood

Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target)

Decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)

.05%

Exaggerated behavior

May have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes)

Impaired judgment

Usually good feeling

Lowered alertness

Release of inhibition

Reduced coordination

Reduced ability to track moving objects

Difficulty steering

Reduced response to emergency driving situations

.08%

Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing)

Harder to detect danger

Judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired

Concentration

Short-term memory loss

Speed control

Reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search)

Impaired perception

.10%

Clear deterioration of reaction time and control

Slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking

Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately

.15%

Far less muscle control than normal

Vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance
for alcohol)

Major loss of balance

Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing

*Information in this table shows the BAC level at which the effect usually is first observed, and has been gathered from a variety of sources including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the American Medical Association, the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, and webMD.

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Mar 13

Alcoholism and Obesity Surgery

Risk of alcohol abuse may increase after bariatric surgery

 

Among patients who underwent bariatric (obesity) surgery, there was a higher prevalence of alcohol use disorders in the second year after surgery, and specifically after Roux-en-Y gastric (stomach) bypass, compared with the years immediately before and following surgery, according to a study in the June 20 issue of JAMA.

“As the prevalence of severe obesity increases, it is becoming increasingly common for health care providers and their patients to consider bariatric surgery, which is the most effective and durable treatment for severe obesity. Although bariatric surgery may reduce long-term mortality, and it carries a low risk of short-term serious adverse outcomes, safety concerns remain. Anecdotal reports suggest that bariatric surgery may increase the risk for alcohol use disorders (AUD; i.e., alcohol abuse and dependence),” according to background information in the article.

The authors add that there is evidence that some bariatric surgical procedures (i.e., Roux-en-Y gastric bypass [RYGB] and sleeve gastrectomy) alter the pharmacokinetics of alcohol. “Given a standardized quantity of alcohol, patients reach a higher peak alcohol level after surgery compared with case-controls or their preoperative levels.”

Wendy C. King, and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether the prevalence of AUD changed following bariatric surgery, comparing reported AUD in the year prior to surgery with the first and second years after surgery. The prospective study included 2,458 adults who underwent bariatric surgery at 10 U.S. hospitals. Of these participants, 1,945 (78.8 percent female; 87 percent white; median [midpoint] age, 47 years; median body mass index, 45.8) completed preoperative and postoperative (at 1 year and/or 2 years) assessments between 2006 and 2011. The primary outcome measure for the study was past year AUD symptoms determined with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) (indication of alcohol-related harm, alcohol dependence symptoms, or score 8 or greater).

The researchers found that the prevalence of AUD symptoms did not significantly differ from 1 year before to 1 year after bariatric surgery (7.6 percent vs. 7.3 percent), but was significantly higher in the second postoperative year (9.6 percent). Frequency of alcohol consumption and AUD significantly increased in the second postoperative year compared with the year prior to surgery or the first postoperative year.

“More than half (66/106; 62.3 percent) of those reporting AUD at the preoperative assessment continued to have or had recurrent AUD within the first 2 postoperative years,” the authors write. “In contrast, 7.9 percent (101/1,283) of participants not reporting AUD at the preoperative assessment had postoperative AUD. Nonetheless, more than half (101/167; 60.5 percent) of postoperative AUD was reported by those not reporting AUD at the preoperative assessment”

The researchers also found that male sex, younger age, smoking, regular alcohol consumption, AUD, recreational drug use, lower score on a measure of a sense of belonging at the preoperative assessment and undergoing a RYGB were independently related to an increased likelihood of AUD after surgery. RYGB accounted for 70 percent of surgeries and doubled the likelihood of postoperative AUD compared with laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

The authors note that although the 2 percent increase (7.6 percent to 9.6 percent) in prevalence of AUD from prior to surgery to the 2-year postoperative assessment may seem small, the increase potentially represents more than 2,000 additional people with AUD in the United States each year, with accompanying personal, financial, and societal costs.

“This study has important implications for the care of patients who undergo bariatric surgery. Regardless of alcohol history, patients should be educated about the potential effects of bariatric surgery, in particular RYGB, to increase the risk of AUD. In addition, alcohol screening and, if indicated, referral should be offered as part of routine preoperative and postoperative clinical care. Further research should examine the long-term effect of bariatric surgery on AUD, and the relationship of AUD to postoperative weight control.”

JAMA. 2012;307[23]:2516-2525.

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Mar 12

Too Young To Be An Alcoholic?

My drinking days were rather brief actually.

Before I realised, I was in trouble, about three years before Alcoholics Anonymous in fact, I considered myself very fortunate that I had enough knowledge of the problem to recognise it in myself. But do you think I had sense enough to stop there? I am afraid not!

For some months I was happily sober then I started having second thoughts about the whole affair. At the time in my early 20’s I was always the youngest in the AA group and my drinking days were not very spectacular in comparison to those I was hearing about. I was considered a novice (so I thought).

I might add here that I had been told by doctors, family and friends that I was not an alcoholic, I was, in some opinions, “very highly strung” and in others I was just a problem drinker.”

These were just the things I wanted to believe too, so I resigned from AA and I drank. I came back, I resigned and I drank. I did this on and off for years.

Nearly all of the things I had heard at meetings that I said I had never done, I eventually did I even “graduated” to being thrown in jail, not once, but three times, for being drunk.

This was pretty hard for everyone to take because for one thing I am a woman whose poor husband has a very responsible position to uphold.

The things I did to my husband and children can only be done by a sick alcoholic. I believe I was like a wild horse that had been roped. I fought like mad to continue on this path of ruin that was going downward with increasing speed.

I can’t say I had a sudden awakening, I didn’t, I had just fought till I as broken and then I was prepared to give in. “Let go and let God” I have found, is just so darned easy it’s weird. I often think it is too easy now I hope I am doing all I should.

Without doubt, I am not doing all I should, but I am doing the one thing that, for me, means “all” or it also means “nothing.” I am not taking a drink and I will have a hell of a job to get drunk if I don’t drink.

Obviously, we have to do certain things to be on and stay on the programme but I believe that we work at this without even knowing it. So once again, it’s back to “keep it simple.”

I am no longer the youngest in a group, I am no longer fighting to live my life my way, but I am constantly reminded of my efforts by new members doing the same things.

I tell my story here now with the hope that some young member might decide that they are doing the same thing. Why not take a short cut? I went up that road and it’s a dead end.

In my little corner of the mad, mad world, I am a very happy, sober wife, contented mother and added to that, I am honoured to be secretary of our group.

I am quite unable to give thanks enough to cover the things I am blessed with.

AA is my way. At last.

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Mar 09

College Drinking Consequences

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A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences

The consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities, and college students, whether they choose to drink or not.

Annual statistics:

  • Death:  1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
  • Injury:  599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol
  • Assault:  696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking
  • Sexual Abuse:  97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex
  • Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall
  • Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.
  • Drunk Driving: 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol
  • Vandalism: About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol
  • Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a "moderate" or "major" problem with alcohol-related property damage
  • Police Involvement: About 5 percent of 4-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking, and  110,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence.
  • Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking
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Mar 06

Alcohol Poisoning

Signs of alcohol poisoning

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Facts About Alcohol Poisoning

Excessive drinking can be hazardous to everyone’s health! It can be particularly stressful if you are the sober one taking care of your drunk friend, who is vomiting.

Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it’s even funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the swallowing of vomit leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of which can result in death.

Do you know about the dangers of alcohol poisoning? When should you seek professional help for a friend? Sadly enough, too many people say they wish they would have sought medical treatment for a friend. Many end up feeling responsible for alcohol-related tragedies that could have easily been prevented.

Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, taking a cold bath or shower, sleeping it off, or walking it off. But these are just myths, and they don’t work. The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is time-something you may not have if you are suffering from alcohol poisoning. And many different factors affect the level of intoxication of an individual, so it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much is too much.

What Happens to Your Body When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions.

It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.

You should also know that a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

Critical Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?
  • Know the danger signals.
  • Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
  • Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.
  • If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call emergency number for help. Don’t try to guess the level of drunkenness.
What Can Happen to Someone With Alcohol Poisoning That Goes Untreated?
  • Victim chokes on his or her own vomit.
  • Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops.
  • Heart beats irregularly or stops.
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature).
  • Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures.
  • Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.

Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet or a dare) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.

Don’t be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don’t worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed-remember, you cared enough to help. Always be safe, not sorry.

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