Alcohol Use and Overdose: The Risks
Although it is one of the most common substances used across human history, alcohol has the potential to cause immense devastation in the lives of individuals who are biologically and psychologically susceptible to addiction. Alcohol use disorders can destroy family relationships, cause separation or divorce, and leave a person socially isolated. Addiction to alcohol can prove particularly harmful to women who tend to have worse physical consequences with less alcohol than males. Excessive alcohol use has harmful effects on a person’s body and can result in liver damage, memory problems, and a host of other health issues. Women also face social consequences specific to their roles in society. If substance abuse is suspected in the home, children can be taken from their mothers. For women who work outside of the home as well, alcohol abuse frequently impairs job performance, resulting in demotion, job loss, and financial ruin.
In addition to these negative effects, people who have alcohol use disorders are at risk for experiencing an alcohol overdose, also referred to as alcohol poisoning. Alcohol overdoses are extremely dangerous and can even be fatal.
The Signs of Overdose
If a person has consumed more alcohol than her body is capable of processing or excreting, she will experience a dangerous condition known as an overdose. An alcohol overdose should be taken very seriously, and a person who is experiencing an overdose should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Signs of alcohol overdose can include:
- Shallow or slowed breathing
- Loss of skin color
- Incoherent speech
- Loss of consciousness
What to Do If a Person is Showing Signs of Overdose
If a person consumes too much alcohol and experiences an overdose, it is important for her to receive professional medical care as soon as possible. If someone who has been drinking is displaying any of the signs listed above, do not hesitate to seek help. In these cases, it is better to err on the side of caution.
When you speak with medical personnel, be prepared to provide them with as much of the following information as possible:
- The signs and symptoms of overdose that you have observed
- The type of alcohol that your loved one has consumed
- Any other substances that you suspect she has been using
- Estimate of how much of the substance your loved one has ingested
- How long she has been using alcohol and to what extent
- Whether or not your loved one has had a previous overdose
- Any other medical or mental health conditions your loved one may have
- Any prescription or over the counter medications that your loved one takes
If you are unable to provide any of this information, do not guess or make something up. It is best to just say you are not sure and move on to the next question.
If you think you may have overdosed on alcohol, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you are able to speak, then provide as much of the above information as possible. If you cannot speak or are feeling as though you are going to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 anyway. At the very least, you will alert the operator that something is wrong and emergency personnel will be dispatched to your location.
An overdose can be a terrifying experience, but even if a person has not experienced this level of intoxication, she may still have a serious drinking problem that requires professional attention. At Timberline Knolls, we are proud to provide the care that has helped many women throughout the years find life-long recovery from alcohol addiction. With the help of our caring and experienced team of treatment professionals, you or your loved one can escape the spiral of alcohol addiction and build the foundation for a new life of freedom in recovery.