Alcohol Intoxication

You have alcohol intoxication when the amount of alcohol that you have consumed has impaired your ability to mentally and physically function. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the level at which alcohol intoxication can occur, such as age, gender, weight, frequency of alcohol consumption, medication use, and the presence of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, seizures, or heart conditions.

The blood alcohol level test measures the concentration of alcohol in your blood. In most states, your blood alcohol level must be lower than 80 mg/dL (0.08%) to legally drive. However, many dangerous effects of alcohol can occur at much lower levels.

Alcohol directly impairs the normal chemical activity of the brain and is said to be a chemical depressant. Alcohol can cause drowsiness, stupor, respiratory failure, and coma. Other physical effects can include headache, vomiting, vomiting of blood, abdominal pain, a fast heartbeat, difficulty breathing, anxiety, and amnesia. Alcohol intoxication can also lead to dangerous and life-threatening activities, such as fighting, dangerous operation of vehicles or heavy machinery, and risky sexual behavior.

Alcohol can be especially dangerous when taken with other drugs. Some of these drugs are:

  • Sedatives.

  • Painkillers.

  • Marijuana.

  • Tranquilizers.

  • Antihistamines.

  • Muscle relaxants.

  • Seizure medicine.

Many of the effects of acute alcohol intoxication are temporary. However, repeated alcohol intoxication can lead to severe medical illnesses. If you have alcohol intoxication, you should:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink enough water and fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. Avoid excessive caffeine because this can further lead to dehydration.

  • Eat a healthy diet. You may have residual nausea, headache, and loss of appetite, but it is still important that you maintain good nutrition. You can start with clear liquids.

  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications as needed for headaches, but make sure to do so with small meals. You should avoid acetaminophen for several days after having alcohol intoxication because the combination of alcohol and acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver.

If you have frequent alcohol intoxication, ask your friends and family if they think you have a drinking problem. For further help, contact:

  • Your caregiver.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

  • A drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have persistent vomiting.

  • You have persistent pain in any part of your body.

  • You do not feel better after a few days.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You become shaky or tremble when you try to stop drinking.

  • You shake uncontrollably (seizure).

  • You throw up (vomit) blood. This may be bright red or it may look like black coffee grounds.

  • You have blood in the stool. This may be bright red or appear as a black, tarry, bad smelling stool.

  • You become lightheaded or faint.

ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS MAY REPRESENT A SERIOUS PROBLEM THAT IS AN EMERGENCY. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in U.S.). DO NOT drive yourself to the hospital.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.