Across the nation, an excess of annually 50,000 individuals experience alcohol poisoning – the exceedingly high concentration of alcohol in the blood to perilous levels. In fact, more than 30 people die from alcohol poisoning each week across the United States. Most often, alcohol poisoning results as a consequence of binge drinking, defined by the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) as five consecutive drinks for men, or four for women, in a single sitting. For those who have experienced alcohol poisoning, swift medical care should be the first (and often life-saving) recourse. In the same vein, effective treatment in an alcohol recovery program can prove just as vital – both in the continual recovery of the body from alcohol poisoning and the treatment of alcoholism to protect against future potentially fatal instances of alcohol poisoning.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
As alcohol levels begin to rise to dangerous heights in the blood stream, the body makes frantic attempts to cope as its automatic functions and organs come under assault. Signs of alcohol poisoning can vary depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and the individual body’s response. However, common signs of alcohol poisoning include profuse vomiting, tremors, seizures, and loss of consciousness (commonly known as “blacking out”).
When alcohol poisoning occurs in severe cases, the body begins to become even more dangerously impacted. Breathing begins to slow down due to alcohol content in the blood and heart rate slows, as well. The body can experience hypothermia – body temperatures that fall to potentially fatal levels. At a certain point of alcohol poisoning, the central nervous system (CNS) can even suppress automatic reflexes regulated by the brain stem. In particular, the body’s pharyngeal response – colloquially known as the “gag reflex” – can become suppressed, placing those with alcohol poisoning in danger of losing consciousness before the body can expel excess alcohol through vomiting. Alcohol poisoning also carries a related and potentially fatal danger – the possibility of choking and aspiration should vomiting continue while an individual is passed out.
Understanding the First Steps After Alcohol Poisoning
In any situation where alcohol poisoning may be suspected, emergency medical treatment needs to be sought immediately. Emergency medical care can consist of gastric lavage or irrigation, aimed at purging and flushing dangerous levels of alcohol and related toxins from the body. Hydrating liquids may also be administered in intravenous form. Patients who have experienced alcohol poisoning may also require life-saving measures in order to stabilize automatic functions such as body temperature, heartrate and respiration. In some cases, organ damage may also need to be treated.
Professional Alcohol Treatment After Alcohol Poisoning
An episode of alcohol poisoning can cause serious damage to the body’s organs, chemical makeup and brain (particularly if loss of consciousness or oxygen deprivation occurs). Even if patients emerge from alcohol poisoning episodes relatively unscathed, the risk of long-term health problems or eventual fatality remains as binge-drinking behavior persists. Professional treatment after hospital discharge in cases of alcohol poisoning can provide an opportunity to break the physical and psychological addiction to alcohol in order to minimize these risks.
Professional detoxification is imperative for every individual withdrawing from alcohol – and even more so when alcohol poisoning has taken place. The toll taken on the body by alcohol poisoning requires supervised medical care during the alcohol detoxification process to ensure against complications and promote healing during recovery. Vital signs can be closely watched while withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be managed with a mixture of nonaddictive medications and psychological counseling.