Alcohol Poisoning Dangers and Young Adults

Alcohol Poisoning Dangers and Young Adults

Alcohol Poisoning Dangers and Young Adults

Table of Contents

What Causes Alcohol Poisoning?

One of the causes of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking, which refers to when people consume too many drinks over a short period. According to Mayo Clinic, people can consume a fatal dose of alcohol before passing out, which leads to alcohol poisoning.1

What Qualifies as a Drink?

A drink is an alcoholic beverage. The amount of each kind of alcohol differs due to higher alcohol content.

According to Mayo Clinic, a drink can be defined as the following:1

Beer: 12 oz

Malt Liquor: 8.5 oz

Wine: 5 oz

80-Proof Hard Liquor: 1.5 oz

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the leading cause of alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking is “a pattern of heavy drinking when a male rapidly consumes five or more alcoholic drinks within two hours, or a female rapidly consumes at least four drinks within two hours.”1 Binge drinking can last a few hours or even a few days. Alcohol stays in the body longer than other vitamins and nutrients, allowing it to have lasting, detrimental effects.

What are the Symptoms of Being Drunk?

Consuming copious amounts of alcohol can lead to drunkenness. However, being drunk depends on several factors. The most significant factor is the amount of alcohol consumed in a short period.

Tipsy vs. Drunk

Being tipsy is one of the first signs of becoming drunk.2 Tipsiness starts once alcohol has entered the bloodstream. Some common symptoms of being tipsy are appearing more talkative or self-confident, more likely to take a risk, slower motor skills, shorter attention span, and impaired short-term memory.2

As drinking progresses, so do the severity of symptoms. When a person becomes drunk, they have escalated from the tipsy state. Some symptoms associated with being drunk are slow/poor judgment, lack of coordination, slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, troubles seeing, drowsiness, nausea, and a loss of balance. There is a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed by a person and the impact of the effects.2

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

There are several signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning that vary in severity. Some less serious symptoms include:3

Strong scent of alcohol


Slurred speech

Poor coordination


Damp, clammy skin

Serious symptoms of alcohol poisoning are as follows:3

Severe confusion/disorientation

Trouble staying awake.

Throwing up


Slow breathing

Slow heartbeat

Bluish or pale skin

Slow responses

Low body temperatures

If you or a friend have these symptoms after consuming multiple drinks, it would be wise to seek medical assistance.

Risk Factors for Alcohol Poisoning

The amount of alcohol a person can safely consume is largely based on different factors. Some risk factors for alcohol poisoning include the drinker’s height/weight, health, alcohol tolerance, amount of food in their stomach, if they have mixed substances with alcohol, and the rate at which they drink.3


Blood Alcohol Concentration, BAC, is the amount of alcohol that is in a person’s blood stream at one time. The higher BAC someone has, the more likely they are at risk for blood alcohol poisoning.

Teen Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a serious issue. According to the NIAAA, “24.6 percent of 14- to 15-year-olds reported having at least 1 drink.”4 Additionally, over 7 million people between ages 12-20 have drank more than a few sips in the past month. Drinking becomes more concerning when it comes to teens. Even though it is illegal for teenagers to drink, there are several ways they gain access to it, including through parties, older adults, and friends.4

Warning Signs of Underage Drinking

Some warning signs for underage drinking include:4

Why Do So Many Young People Drink?

There are several reasons why teens drink. For most teens, curiosity about alcohol leads them to it. Many other teenagers will drink to fit in, relax, reduce stress, feel good about themselves, and feel older.5

How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

To avoid alcohol poisoning, it is best to drink in moderation. Alternating drinks with nonalcoholic beverages, especially water, is a significant help. It is safer to drink while on a full stomach rather than an empty one, and it can be extremely dangerous to mix drinks with prescription medication or any other substances.

How Parents Can Influence Teen Drinking

There are several different ways a parent can help influence their teen not to drink. They can have open conversations with their children about alcohol. Honest conversation allows parents and teens to talk about the way they view drinking, and parents can teach their children ways to avoid peer pressure.

Parents can also set clear boundaries and rules with their children, so teens know what is acceptable and unacceptable. Parents can be positive role models for students by modeling how to drink responsibility. Finally, parents can show a positive interest in their children’s life and friends.

Treatment of Alcohol Poisoning

If you or a friend are showing symptoms of alcohol poisoning, you should seek professional medical help right away. Treating alcohol poisoning in a medical setting will consist of several important steps. Medical professionals will insert a tube into the patient to help with breathing and oxygen levels. They might insert an IV to help with hydration. In sever cases, a catheter and stomach pump might be used.6

What to Do While Waiting for Help

If you or a friend are waiting for medical help due to alcohol poisoning, the following precautions and actions should be taken:6

  • Keep the intoxicated individual awake.
  • Keep the intoxicated individual sitting up.
  • If they life down, tilt their head to the side to avoid chocking on vomit.
  • Give them water to drink if possible and aim to keep them hydrated.
  • Do not give them caffeine.
  • Do not give them anymore alcohol.
  • Do not force them to walk.



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