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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Dear Dr. Steve:
A friend of mine died recently. He and three other buddies had gone to our usual stomping grounds after our weekly softball game. We had a contest to see who could drink the most shots after 2 hours. He drank 24 shots in two hours. Later, we found him passed out in the bathroom. When we couldn’t awaken him, we called the paramedics. He was pronounced dead in the emergency room an hour later. The doctor said that he died of alcohol poisoning from drinking too much. They said his blood alcohol content was .44. What is alcohol poisoning? I always figured if I drank too much, I would just pass out and sleep it off.

Like any drug, alcohol can be toxic to those who abuse it or consume more than their bodies can safely handle. Alcohol poisoning can occur when large amounts are consumed in a short period of time. There are a number of variables that influence how much alcohol in what period of time can cause alcohol poisoning. Those variables are the size and weight of a person, the tolerance that they have developed for alcohol, how quickly they consume their drinks, the type of alcohol that they have consumed, the individual’s level of stress and fatigue, and how much and when, if any, had the individual eaten prior to drinking.

Once a person’s level of consumption of alcohol exceeds their body’s ability to ingest such a level, that individual will pass out. This can be exceedingly dangerous because excessive amounts of alcohol in an individual’s blood system can interfere with the brain’s ability to regulate breathing. People who experience alcohol poisoning are vulnerable to slipping into a coma, choking to death on food or perhaps their vomit, and suffocating by experiencing respiratory arrest. Alcohol poisoning should be taken seriously and treated like any other medical emergency.

So how can you tell if someone that you’re with is suffering from alcohol poisoning? How can you differentiate between someone who has just had a little too much to drink and someone who’s suffering from alcohol poisoning? What if you are unsure whether someone has had a little too much to drink or actually is suffering from alcohol poisoning? Look for the following symptoms of an alcohol overdose:

1.) Does not respond to being talked to or shouted at
2.) Does not respond to being pinched, prodded or poked
3.) Cannot stand up
4.) Will not wake up
5.) Slow, labored or abnormal breathing fewer than eight breaths per minute, or 10 seconds or more between breaths)
6.) Cold, pale, bluish or purplish skin color
7.) Skin feels clammy
8.) Rapid pulse rate
9.) Irregular heart rhythm
10.) Lowered blood pressure
11.) Vomiting while awake or asleep
12.) Semi-consciousness or unconsciousness

Passing out from drinking should be treated like the medical emergency that it is. If you can’t awaken or get a response a person who has passed out from drinking, call for medical assistance immediately.

Do not leave the person alone while you await medical assistance. If the person vomits while passed out, turn them over onto their side. Pay close attention to their breathing. If the person stops breathing, apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The only way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to control your drinking. The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to control your drinking. Know your limits. Pace how much alcohol you consume over the course of an evening or an event.

G.B.U.

Steve


Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.



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