University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Alcohol Poisoning

Preview Points

  • Alcohol poisoning does not have absolute symptoms. The symptoms may vary between people.
  • Those who may be suffering acute alcohol poisoning should get medical attention.
  • A person who is suffering alcohol poisoning may be at risk of suffocation from their own vomit.
  • Alcohol poisoning may become fatal.


Alcohol poisoning may be present if the person has cold, damp or bluish skin color. This indicates that they’re not getting enough oxygen. If the person is vomiting and does not wake up, that individual is at risk of suffocation. A person may be suffering severe dehydration from vomiting. Other symptoms to look for include: fever or chills or heavy sweating; paranoia, confusion, disorientation or seizures; loss of consciousness or semi-consciousness (alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system), and slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute), a slow respiration rate (10 seconds between breaths), or the stoppage of breathing.

If a person is vomiting, keep them upright, or place them on the floor in the fetal position (on their side), and be sure you monitor them constantly so that they do not breathe in and choke on their own vomit.

People should call 911 if any symptoms of alcohol poisoning exist. People may exhibit some of the signs of alcohol poisoning above or show all the symptoms. The “BAC” or “blood alcohol concentration” level may increase long after the last drink was consumed as the body processes the drinks; therefore, a semi-conscious person should be constantly monitored.

However, there is no guarantee that if a person is breathing nine times a minute that they will be fine, or if they are breathing seven times a minute that they will die. Alcohol tolerance varies between people. If there are any concerns, get help because it can be dangerous to assume that a person will just “sleep off” the alcohol. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t let fear about how your friend may respond tomorrow prevent you from acting and getting help immediately.

Concluding Points

  • People have different tolerance levels for alcohol, and their bodies will react differently.
  • Make sure that a person who is showing signs of alcohol poisoning is cared for and monitored constantly.
  • Make sure that a person doesn’t choke on his or her own vomit while under the influence of alcohol poisoning.
  • Get professional help if a person is showing any of the signs of acute alcohol poisoning.

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