Alcohol Poisoning

Emergency physicians urge anyone consuming alcohol to do so responsibly and in moderation.

Very few things are more heartbreaking than to see a family suffer the loss of a loved one because of an alcohol-related tragedy. A fun celebration can turn into a nightmare in the blink of an eye, and it can happen to anyone.

Some tips to stay safe:

  • Plan ahead. Make transportation arrangements, choose a designated driver, make sure your phone is charged in advance, communicate your plans to friends or loved ones so that another person is aware of your location.
  • Know your limits. Don’t consume drinks on an empty stomach and pace yourself throughout your evening. One approach is to alternate one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage.
  • Keep safety in mind. Avoid driving, consider cold weather dangers when making plans and watch where you point that champagne bottle—corks can launch from champagne bottles at speeds reaching 50 mph, causing severe eye injuries. Don’t leave your drink unattended.

When does becoming overly intoxicated turn into an emergency? Know the signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Blue skin
  • Choking
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slurred speech or extreme confusion

If somebody you know has been drinking and shows these symptoms, please take them to the nearest emergency department. If the person cannot breathe, has a seizure or cannot be woken up, call 911 and request an ambulance.

Emergency physicians see firsthand the tragic consequences of impaired driving and virtually everyone shows impairment at a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent. Many emergency physicians are actively engaged in public education about alcohol and driving. Learn more about alcohol and driving.

Anyone who thinks they're having a medical emergency should not hesitate to seek care. Federal law ensures that anyone who comes to the emergency department is treated and stabilized, and that their insurance provides coverage based on symptoms, not a final diagnosis. 

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