Tony's Tips - The Truth About Alcohol Poisoning

Teach Your Teens & Yourself The Truth About Alcohol Poisoning

Sophomore's death caused by alcohol poisoning, Hatchett News

Alcohol Poisoning-Related Deaths on the Rise for Coeds, Fox News

A poster-sized portrait of a local teen hung in the frame shop. Wedding pictures, graduation and baby photos surrounded it. The poster had been made for the young man’s funeral. This young man had gone off to college, participated in some drinking game, got alcohol poisoning and died. A teen who hadn’t drunk before made a stupid mistake and would never have the graduation or life he and his parents had dreamed of.

Did you know that:

  • There are over 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported each year (many/most don’t get reported)

  • 1 in 1000 cases of alcohol poisoning result in death; others have resulted in brain damage

  • Over 1,400 college students between 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related injuries each year

  • 157 college-age people, 18 to 23 drank themselves to death from 1999 through 2005; 18 in 1999 to 35 in 2005 from alcohol poisoning

  • About half of the teenagers who die from alcohol poisoning occur after drinking alcohol for the first time.

  • One practice, drinking 21 shots on a 21st birthday, has proven especially lethal. Of the college-age deaths that made news, 11 people, including 8 college students, died while celebrating their 21st birthday.

What is alcohol poisoning?

  1. Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short time.

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

  3. It is common for someone who drank too much to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. If they vomit when unconscious they could die by asphyxiation.

  4. A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after they stop 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.

When you hear about someone dying from "alcohol poisoning," it usually means the person died in one of the following ways:

  1. The blood alcohol level was so high that it affected parts of the brain and nervous system that control breathing, heartbeat, and related body functions. The drinker died because they stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating, usually while unconscious.

  2. They vomited while unconscious, inhaled the vomit, and suffocated. There are also occasional reports of an unconscious drinker choking on their own tongue.

  3. The alcohol reacted in combination with some other drug - over the counter, prescription, or illegal. These deaths can happen at a relatively low blood alcohol level.

  4. An intoxicated person can also die of exposure, sometimes in temperatures as high as 50 degrees F. Alcohol affects both the heart and body temperature.

Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning

It’s important to know the signs of alcohol poisoning and the treatment. You never know when you may be faced with an emergency. Learning the symptoms and calling 911 is the difference between someone “sleeping it off” and saving a life.

  • 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?

Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, talking 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.

  1. Call 911 immediately. It is imperative to get the person to the hospital as soon as possible so he or she can be closely watched by medical professionals, given oxygen and fluids, and so that other measures can be taken in order to prevent choking, as well as stopped breathing or heartbeat.

  2. While waiting for the ambulance, keep the person warm, awake, and keep their head up so that they don’t vomit.

What you can do to protect your teens:

  1. Talking to teenagers about alcohol abuse can be a touchy subject, especially when there are so many negative influences on television and from other media sources. Allow teenagers to ask questions about alcohol, and explain that drinking responsibly, if the decision to drink comes up, is the smart way to go.

  2. Listen to what your teens have to say. They will have opinions about alcohol. It's best to listen to their opinions and help them make their best decisions.

  3. They may already have learned the hazards of drinking too much since many have been taught this at school. Set an example - yourself.

  4. Know where your teens are at night and on weekends. While you should know, being too invasive can push your teen away or lead to acting out by drinking. Set clear curfews any time your teen leaves the house. Get an address or phone number for their destination if it is unfamiliar.

  5. Let your teen know that she or he can call you for a ride before driving or riding with someone who has been drinking – no questions asked. Or give them car fare home. Your major concern is that they stay alive.

  6. Discuss with your teen what makes a good friend. They may be pressured into over-drinking by their friends in order to fit in. A good friend will never encourage them to do anything they don't want to just to be popular or cool.

  7. Give your teen and your friends this article.

Something to think about:

  • We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.
    C. Malesherbez

  • Who do you want to be?  “First say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do.”
    Epictetus

  • We lose the fear of making decisions, great and small, as we realize that should our choice prove wrong, we can, if we will, learn from the experience.
    Anonymous


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