An overdose is often thought of in the context of illegal drugs, but did you know that you can overdose on alcohol as well? While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, excessive or binge drinking can lead to dangerous blood-alcohol levels. Here’s everything you need to know about the dangers of alcohol overdose.
Defining the Overdose
Breathing becomes shallow, the heart rate slows down, and you begin to lose the ability to regulate body temperature. As these symptoms shut down, they create an extreme state of mental confusion and a blackout. Vomiting and seizures are common, while the skin becomes clammy and the body’s reflexes are dulled. During this time, the brain can suffer permanent damage.
You already know that too much alcohol can impair your ability to drive, cause you to slur words, or make you prone to impulsive and often dangerous decisions. An overdose, however, happens when the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream begins to affect your brain’s ability to control the body’s life support functions.
While seizures and debilitated states are on the far end of alcohol poisoning, there are plenty of dangers that happen when this sets in. Those injured by a drunk driver often learn that the person behind the wheel was in a state of blackout at the time of the accident.
This is also, unfortunately, when victims of sexual abuse are taken advantage of due to the vulnerability that comes with the overdose. Irresponsible decisions, ranging from theft to unprotected sex, are also common during the onset.
Spotting the Danger Beforehand
In order to avoid alcohol overdose, it’s vital that you are aware of when to stop drinking and what to do afterward. Keep in mind that you should call 911 immediately if you suspect that someone has overdosed, as this condition can be life threatening.
Mild impairment begins between a 0.05% and 0.06% BAC, slightly impacting coordination and speech. From the 0.06% market to 0.15%, you enter the realm of a DUI charge. Since this is where most bar-goers find themselves, many often need help with a repeat DUI case if they continue this behavior.
Anything between 0.16% and 0.30% is considered severe impairment. Blackouts occur, and all bodily and mental systems are impaired. Alcohol overdose happens at the higher end in this range, with vomiting being the most likely symptom as well as losing consciousness.
Finally, anything over 0.31% is life threatening. Vital systems are suppressed, making unconscious states extremely dangerous. Ideally, you want to stop drinking before you hit 0.08%. If you do begin to feel the effects of increased impairment, lay off the alcohol and switch to water. Further signs of increased impairment include:
- Relaxation giving way to excitement and intoxication
- Increased aggression over situations
- Attention, coordination, and speech impairment
- Impaired ability to drive
- Moderate memory loss or inability to recall information
It isn’t always easy to identify your drunkenness or switch to water, but keeping these symptoms in the back of your mind on a night out will help you avoid alcohol poisoning. It can also help you keep your friends out of a terrible situation.