People may feel euphoric while drinking alcohol because ethanol stimulates the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. This effect on the brain’s dopamine system can lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol intoxication occurs when a person drinks an excess of alcohol in one period. Keep reading to learn more about alcohol intoxication, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments. Although people can safely consume alcohol without experiencing immediate adverse health effects, long term alcohol consumption can jeopardize overall health. If someone experiences alcohol poisoning, they will need time to recover.

alcohol overdose

Unlike food, which can take hours to digest, the body absorbs alcohol quickly — long before most other nutrients. It can be hard to decide if you think someone is drunk enough to need medical help. But it’s best to take action right away rather than be sorry later. You may worry about what will happen to you or a friend or family member, especially if underage. But the results of not getting help in time can be far more serious.

Alcohol poisoning

It is a regular practice to give small amounts of beer to race horses in Ireland. Ruminant farm animals have natural fermentation occurring in their stomach, and adding alcoholic beverages in small amounts to their drink will generally do them no harm, and will not cause them to become drunk. Alcohol intoxication is described as a mental and behavioural disorder by the International Classification of Diseases. (ICD-10).[38] Definitive diagnosis relies on a blood test for alcohol, usually performed as part of a toxicology screen. Because these may have varying reliability and may produce different results than the tests used for law-enforcement purposes, the results from such devices should be conservatively interpreted.

Since its effect starts shortly after being smoked, the strength of intoxication caused by cannabis can be better compared to alcohol, Tönnes said, thereby reducing the risk of an overdose. However, “when cannabis is consumed like a pastry, overdoses can occur as well.” But there are also many other risk factors for illicit drug use that need to be considered, she added. The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the US says so, too, adding that more research is needed on the question of cannabis as a gateway drug. †† Drug categories are not comprehensive; some deaths are excluded because they contain drug combinations that are not presented in the panels (e.g., deaths with only IMFs and prescription opioids detected). Researchers asked 2,072 adults who participate in the RAND American Life Panel about whether they knew someone who had died of a drug overdose and to explain how the death affected their lives.

Alcohol Poisoning FAQs

But she emphasized that even she can’t clearly say how neurotoxic or brain-damaging the main active ingredient in cannabis, THC, really is. The qualitative implementation of the experiment was heavily criticized, and the results of the study were later refuted by researchers at the National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas. “Cannabis definitely has an effect on the cardiovascular system,” Tönnes said. “People who are particularly sensitive, have a predisposition or have previous damage may therefore be particularly sensitive to cannabis.”

alcohol overdose

The best way to reduce your risk is to keep your alcohol consumption low or consider non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative. Even when someone stops drinking, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise for minutes, resulting in worsening symptoms. It’s a myth that a person can recover from alcohol intoxication by sleeping, taking a cold shower, going for a walk, or drinking black coffee or caffeine. In fact, doing these things can put an intoxicated person at greater risk of injury and death. A person’s breathing and blood circulation will be extremely slowed. Their motor responses and gag reflexes are nonfunctional, and their body temperature drops.

What Are the Risk Factors for Alcohol Overdose?

Alcohol overdose is preventable on an individual and societal level. People who binge drink have a higher risk of experiencing alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks (for men) or four or more drinks (for women) within two hours.

If a person has generally consumed two to three drinks as a man or one to two drinks as a woman in an hour, they’ll enter the euphoric stage of intoxication. At this stage of intoxication, the person’s behavior will be normal with no visible signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech or delayed reaction time. If you’ve drunk a dangerous amount of alcohol, doctors may “pump” your stomach. This keeps any leftover alcohol from getting into your bloodstream. Alcohol poisoning happens when there’s too much alcohol in your blood, causing parts of your brain to shut down. If you experience an alcohol overdose, your outlook will depend on how severe your overdose is and how quickly you seek treatment.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is usually caused by binge drinking, which is where you have a lot of alcohol in one drinking session. It can happen when you drink alcohol faster than your body can filter it out of your blood. “Specifically, when you’re younger, your brain is going through a lot of changes. A huge risk factor for people who develop alcohol use disorder is early-onset drinking. So, if you drink before the age of 14, there’s about a 50% chance you’re going to develop an alcohol use disorder in your adulthood,” explains Dr. Anand. It can feel overwhelming and scary to be in a situation where someone you know or love may be experiencing an alcohol overdose.