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Alcohol Poisoning: You Can Save a Life in Less Than 10 Steps

Last night Kerry got drunk… and then kept drinking. By the end of the night, he couldn’t even stand up on his own. His friends carried him to the car, drove him home and put him to bed on his couch. They thought he’d just sleep it off and have a horrible hangover to show for it the next morning.

But what if Kerry doesn’t simply “sleep it off?” What if he was actually unconscious as a result of alcohol poisoning?

What Causes Alcohol Poisoning?

Your liver can only process about one drink every hour. If your drinking gets ahead of your liver, the alcohol remains in your bloodstream and increases your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you drink enough alcohol—at a fast enough rate—your BAC level spikes to a toxic (poisonous) level. The result is alcohol poisoning.

Once your bloodstream contains a poisonous level of alcohol, your body is no longer able to perform some of its most basic functions; your breathing can become shallow, your heart rate is no longer regular, and you’re in danger of choking on your own vomit. If worse comes to worse, you can fall into a coma and die.

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?

Since it’s a potentially life-threatening situation, you need to know what alcohol poisoning looks like. Here’s a look at the signs you’ll want to look for:

  • Very slow breathing
  • Unusual breathing rhythm
  • Confusion
  • Unresponsiveness (stupor)
  • Passing out
  • Hypothermia (drop in body temperature)
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Vomiting

These symptoms can quickly develop into more serious issues. For example, breathing may stop, vomiting can cause choking, and drops in sugar levels can cause seizures. Because of this, alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening issue that demands urgent medical care.

Save a Life—Follow These 9 Steps

If you notice these symptoms, take these life-saving steps.

  • Call for an ambulance.
  • Try to keep them awake.
  • Try to keep them in a sitting position.
  • Give them water (if they are able to drink it).
  • If they are unconscious, put them in the recovery position.
  • Do not give them coffee (this makes dehydration worse).
  • Do not lie them on their back.
  • Do not give them more alcohol.
  • Do not make them walk.

One person dies each week from alcohol poisoning. Reacting quickly with the proper response could save your loved one’s life.

How to Get Help for Alcohol Misuse or Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol misuse, help is available. Alcohol addiction treatment programs can start those battling alcoholism on the road to recovery. You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) for more information free at . There are also free drug and alcohol abuse hotline numbers you can call. Check your health insurance coverage online now using the form below.

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