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How dangerous is alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a serious potentially life threatening conditon

Alcohol poisoning is a serious, and sometimes fatal, consequence of consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.

Drinking too much too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex and potentially lead to coma and death.

Binge drinking is the main cause of alcohol poisoning.

Healthdirect defines binge drinking as “Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol in one session with the aim of getting drunk”.

Binge drinking is glorified in Australia, where alcohol is the most consumed drug.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2019, more than 16 million Australians aged 14 and over had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months. 

Changing behaviours will be a difficult and long process, but education could be the first step towards change.

Learning healthier drinking habits, how to look out for signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning and what to do if someone is suspected of alcohol poisoning are some important knowledge for people who drink regularly.

What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning?

  • Eyes rolled back in head
  • Clammy skin
  • Changed skin colour
  • Slow breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Vomiting while passed out
  • Cannot be awakened from their passed out state

What do I do if I think someone has alcohol poisoning?

A person with alcohol poisoning needs immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call for 000 or emergency services straight away.

How can I prevent alcohol poisoning?

If you choose to drink, there are several things you can do before, during, and after drinking to keep you and your friends safe:

Before drinking alcohol

  • Be prepared – bring your mobile phone
  • Decide on a drink limit and tell your friends (and more importantly, stick to it!)
  • Eat a full meal. Drinking on an empty stomach is dangerous.
  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning and 000 for emergency services

While drinking alcohol

  • Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had
  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per hour
  • If you have a breathalyser, check your BAC every hour and be sure to stay under your set BAC limit
  • Sip drinks slowly
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
  • Stick to one type of alcohol
  • Avoid unfamiliar drinks with unknown alcohol content
  • Avoid chugging contests or drinking games
  • Check on your friends throughout the night

After drinking alcohol

  • Leave with your friends
  • Stay with friends who appear to be intoxicated or ill
  • Call 000 emergency services right away if you notice signs of alcohol poisoning