Recently, my wife and I were celebrating at a bar, and lots of friends thought it would be cute to ply her with tequila shots. Not being an experienced drinker, and being a really polite person, she accepted them all and pretty soon was fully inebriated...
It was once we got home that I really got worried, so I had to think quick and nurse her through the first critical stages of what was sure to be one heck of hangover.
When a large quantity of alcohol is consumed, usually over a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result. The human body is capable of processing 1 to 1.5 ounces of alcohol in an hour. This is the amount usually contained in a standard drink – a 12 ounce bottle of beer, a five ounce glass of wine, or one mixed drink (however, many mixed drinks and punches contain far greater quantities of alcohol).
It is well known that alcohol is a depressant and dulls or weakens functioning abilities of the nerves which control an individual’s breathing, heartbeat and gag reflex.
The gag reflex is activated when the body cannot process all of the alcohol consumed. What it cannot process, is vomited out, due to the gag reflex. When the gag reflex is weak, the body absorbs even the extra alcohol, which otherwise it would excrete as vomit. In extreme cases, this can cause alcohol poisoning.
The following are the symptoms that indicate possible alcohol poisoning:
- The person is unconscious
- The person is taking in less than 12 breaths per minute, or no breaths at all for up to 10 seconds at a time.
- The skin/lips are cold and turning blue in color
If you happen to be with someone displaying the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, you should call for emergency help immediately. In the meanwhile, turn the person over to their side in order to prevent them from choking if they happen to vomit in the state of unconsciousness.
Other symptoms to be watched out for in a person who has been drinking too much are:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty walking or standing up
- Unpredictable behavior
- Inability to make eye contact or continue a conversation
- A lot of vomiting and feeling ill
At the hospital, the patient suffering from alcohol poisoning may undergo a stomach wash, where a saline solution is used to wash and pump out its contents. Alcohol poisoning is a serious effect of excessive drinking and can be fatal if not attended to in time.
There is a common understanding that mixing drinks will make you more drunk. For example mixing beer with, say vodka. However, mixing alcoholic drinks will not make one more or less drunk.
What is important is the amount of alcohol consumed in a specific amount of time. But, combinations of certain beverages may cause the drinker’s stomach to get upset. Each individual should keenly watch their body’s own reactions and drink accordingly.
Alcohol poisoning or even unpleasant drunken behavior can be avoided by taking the following simple precautions:
- Take your drink slowly
- Sip your drink, don’t swallow big gulps
- Dilute your drinks
- Avoid undiluted shots
- Take alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks alternately
- Be on a full stomach before you begin drinking
Jack Smith writes about various topics.