How Long Does Alcohol Poisoning Last?

By Cathy Habas What exactly is alcohol poisoning? Does everyone experience it the same way? And how long does alcohol poisoning last?
Binge Drinking Alcohol

If you have had a few too many drinks, gone on a binge, experienced a blackout, tried a new cocktail of alcoholic beverage or simply woke up with the worst hangover ever after a night of partying, these questions may be swirling around in your head.

But here’s the good news: if you’re sober enough to read an article online, you’re probably not experiencing alcohol poisoning.

However, alcohol poisoning is a serious, life-threatening emergency. If you participate in any kind of social drinking activity, you owe it to your friends to know the signs of alcohol poisoning and to call 911.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning and What to Do Next

There is no minimum amount of alcohol that someone has to consume in order to get alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is inherently poisonous. The signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion or stupor
  • Stumbling
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Loss of consciousness

Don’t wait around wondering, “How long does alcohol poisoning last?” and expecting your friend to just walk it off. A medical professional needs to pump the person’s stomach or provide supportive care in order to safely help someone who is experiencing alcohol poisoning. Get help for your friend before the symptoms increase or worsen. When you call 911, stay on the line for instructions about what to do until first responders arrive.

Providing Immediate Help: Dos and Don’ts

If a friend shows signs of alcohol poisoning, here are some important dos and don’ts to follow until help arrives.

DO:

  • Help them sit up and stay awake
  • Let them drink water
  • Put a blanket or jacket around them to keep them warm
  • Stay with them
  • Monitor their breathing
  • If they have passed out, lay them on their side

DON’T:

  • Have them “sleep it off” or “walk it off”
  • Induce vomiting (the risk of choking on vomit or aspirating it into the lungs is very high in cases of alcohol poisoning, and both are deadly)
  • Try to “sober them up” with coffee or a cold shower
  • Leave them

But How Long Does Alcohol Poisoning Last?

With proper supportive care, the effects of alcohol poisoning can wear off in just a few hours. However, in severe cases, lasting internal damage can be sustained. The risk of coma or death is also very real in cases of alcohol poisoning, and can occur very quickly.

Alcohol poisoning is most commonly associated with binge drinking, but the definition of a “binge” varies from person to person based on gender, height and weight.

To be safe, avoid binge drinking practices and educate yourself on what to do in order to help a friend (or a stranger!) who shows signs of alcohol poisoning. It’s as smart as learning the signs of drowning before you head out to the pool; be prepared for the worst.

Resources

Facts About Alcohol Overdose (or Alcohol Poisoning)

https://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/parentsandstudents/students/factsheets/factsaboutalcoholpoisoning.aspx

Alcohol Poisoning – Symptoms, Causes and Effects

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/effects-on-the-body/alcohol-poisoning/

Posted on December 22nd, 2016
Posted in Alcoholism, Articles

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