Alcohol Poisoning : A Medical Emergency
Alcohol poisoning, like other drug overdoses, can occur after the ingestion of a large amount of any alcoholic beverage (this includes beer, wine, and distilled spirits). But inexperienced drinkers, or those more sensitive to alcohol, may become acutely intoxicated and suffer serious consequences after drinking smaller amounts. Because of differences in body chemistry, women can overdose after drinking lesser amounts than men.
Here's what happens. Alcohol (a depressant drug), once ingested, works to slow down some of the body's functions. This includes heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. When the vital centers have been depressed enough by alcohol, unconsciousness occurs. Further, the amount of alcohol that it takes to produce unconsciousness is dangerously close to the fatal dose. People who survive alcohol poisoning sometimes suffer irreversible brain damage.
Many students are surprised to learn that death can occur from acute intoxication. Most think the worst that can happen is that they will pass out or have a hangover the next day.
Binge drinking (drinking five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion) is a common phenomenon on college campuses. As a result, you may come into contact with a person who is experiencing a life-threatening acute alcohol intoxication episode. Knowing the signs and symptoms of acute alcohol intoxication and taking appropriate action can help you avoid a tragedy.
Signs and Symptoms:
If you encounter someone with one or more of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately.>
While waiting for the emergency transport, gently turn the intoxicated person on his or her side and maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of the person's back. This is important to prevent aspiration (choking) should the person vomit. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
Sleeping it Off?
A more difficult situation occurs when the person appears to be "sleeping it off." It is important to understand that even though a person may be semi-conscious, alcohol already in the stomach may continue to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. The person's life may still be in danger.
If you should encounter such a situation, place the person on his or her side, help them maintain that position, and watch them closely for signs of alcohol poisoning. If any signs appear, call 911.
If you are having difficulty determining whether an individual is acutely intoxicated, contact a health professional immediately. You cannot afford to guess.
From Health & Counseling Services, California Polytechnic University. Full Article.
It’s not always easy to see when your drinking has crossed the line from moderate or social use to problem drinking. But if you consume alcohol to cope with difficulties or to avoid feeling bad, you’re in potentially dangerous territory. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can sneak up on you, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs and take steps to cut back if you recognize them. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it.
Understanding Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are due to many interconnected factors, including genetics, how you were raised, your social environment, and your emotional health. Some racial groups, such as American Indians and Native Alaskans, are more at risk than others of developing alcohol addiction. People who have a family history of alcoholism or who associate closely with heavy drinkers are more likely to develop drinking problems. Finally, those who suffer from a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder are also particularly at risk, because alcohol may be used to self-medicate.
Since drinking is so common in many cultures and the effects vary widely from person to person, it’s not always easy to figure out where the line is between social drinking and problem drinking. The bottom line is how alcohol affects you. If your drinking is causing problems in your life, you have a drinking problem.
Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
You may have a drinking problem if you...
If you find yourself rationalizing your drinking habits, lying about them, or refusing to discuss the subject, take a moment to consider why you’re so defensive. If you have a drinking problem, you may deny it by:
If you’re ready to admit you have a drinking problem, you’ve already taken the first step. It takes tremendous strength and courage to face alcohol abuse and alcoholism head on. Reaching out for support is the second step. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential.
Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.
Getting sober is only the beginning. In order to stay alcohol-free for the long term, you’ll also have to face the underlying problems that led to your alcoholism or alcohol abuse in the first place.
Those problems could be depression, an inability to manage stress, an unresolved trauma from your childhood, or any number of mental health issues. Such problems may become more prominent when you’re no longer using alcohol to cover them up. But you will be in a healthier position to finally address them and seek the help you need.
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Alcohol Abuse Resources
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