The Key Signs of Alcohol Overdose November 14th, 2019 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News The Key Signs of Alcohol Overdose

The Key Signs of Alcohol Overdose

girl with a possible alcohol overdoseEvery single year alcohol poisoning sends thousands of people to the hospital. Some people aren’t so lucky, but others do recover and yet they still can sustain lasting brain damage, along with other negative health consequences.

When an alcohol overdose occurs you have to act fast in order to help save a loved one or peer. If you’re able to recognize the signs of an alcohol overdose, you might just be able to save the life of someone who has drunk too much alcohol.

Below we highlight how alcohol poisoning occurs, the warning signs of alcohol poisoning, and possible treatment options available.

How Does Alcohol Overdose Occur?

In short, consuming too much alcohol in one sitting will lead to alcohol poisoning. However, there is a myriad of other factors that contribute to your susceptibility towards alcohol poisoning. Your gender, age, and certain genetic factors will influence how quickly and efficiently your body can metabolize alcohol. The less efficient your body is at processing alcohol, the higher your chances of accidental alcohol poisoning.

A blood alcohol level that’s above 0.16 BAC is considered alcohol poisoning. This occurs when the rate of alcohol you’re consuming is greater than your body’s ability to process the alcohol.

Warning Signs of Alcohol Overdose?

When someone stops drinking alcohol their body still continues to process the alcohol, so it’s possible for the person to get to a dangerous blood alcohol level even after they’ve stopped drinking.

Alcohol poisoning can be incredibly dangerous. If you notice someone is experiencing any of the symptoms below you should seek out medical help as soon as possible. The worst thing you could do is try to treat the alcohol overdose yourself.

When you let someone who has drank dangerous levels of alcohol sleep it off they run the risk of vomiting and choking on their own vomit. Traditional methods of “sobering” a person up, like drinking coffee, or having them take a cold shower, don’t work either. Alcohol affects breathing patterns by repressing the nervous system. Don’t try to treat the person yourself, just stay with them, and keep them awake until medical help arrives.

The following signs should be taken as an indication that medical intervention is a necessity:

  • Lowered body temperature or feeling cold to the touch
  • Lapsing into unconsciousness
  • Slow heart rate
  • Shallow or slow breathing
  • Clammy hands and feet
  • Vomiting and nauseousness
  • Confusion or blackout

In some cases alcohol poisoning leads to excessive dehydration, which may even cause seizures. If someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms, get them help as soon as possible.

When is Alcohol Addiction Treatment Necessary?

Immediate medical treatment for alcohol overdose usually includes oxygen therapy, and an IV for hydration and nutrient uptake. In extreme cases the stomach will be pumped to prevent any more alcohol from being absorbed by the body.

If you or a loved one, has suffered from alcohol poisoning on numerous occasions that’s a sign you have a problem with alcohol. Although, you can treat alcohol addiction on your own it’s often dangerous and ineffective. The best course of action is to go to a qualified alcohol treatment center for proper detoxification and recovery support. The staff will be able to diagnose and address your needs to help you live a life of sobriety.

Speak with one of our trained professionals if you have a loved one who is suffering from the debilitating effects of alcoholism.


“Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose” DDAP. Web. 11 Feb 2016.

“Alcohol Poisoning Deaths” DCD, 6 Jan 2015. Web. 11 Feb 2016.

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Murray under Creative Commons License.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.