Warner Park Recovery Center – Woodland Hills Mental Health

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Can You Overdose on Alcohol?

Alcohol overdose occurs when a person consumes enough alcohol over one short period of time to produce dangerous negative consequences. The amount of alcohol required to induce an overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning, depends on a person’s bodily and chemical makeup. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning may include:
  • Confusion, delirium, or mental blankness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Vomiting
  • Diminished gag reflex
  • Difficulty breathing or stopped breathing
  • Pale or blue skin
  • Lowered body temperature and heart rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizures
The typical rule for alcohol overdose relates to a user’s breathing: if it has slowed to fewer than eight breaths per minute, they require immediate medical help. Additionally, a user who has passed out and cannot be rewoken also needs help and must not be left alone. They may vomit, choke, and die, or stop breathing entirely due to slowed respiratory function.

Even if a person doesn’t drink enough to induce alcohol poisoning or overdose, they can still pose a danger to themselves and to others. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for about 95,000 deaths each year in the United States, accounting for 1 in 10 deaths among adults.

Excessive alcohol use includes binge drinking and heavy drinking. The CDC defines these terms as follows:
Binge drinking: Consuming 5 (for men) or 4 (for women) or more drinks at once.
Heavy drinking: Consuming 15 (for men) or 8 (for women) or more drinks in a week.

Both forms of excessive drinking are associated with increased risks for numerous health problems, including liver disease, multiple types of cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, mental illness, cirrhosis, and alcohol-related accidental injury, such as motor vehicle crashes. Alcohol use is also tied to violence, child neglect, fire injuries, and falls.

What Are the Side Effects of Alcohol?

Even short-term alcohol use is tied to a number of negative effects. As a person consumes more alcohol than their body can process, they begin to experience effects including:
  • Poor judgment
  • Reduced reaction time
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Rapid loss of body heat
  • Aggression
Drinking even a moderate amount of alcohol greatly increases a user’s risk for numerous harmful conditions. Alcohol users are in particular danger of motor vehicle accidents, drownings, burns, and other forms of accidental deaths; violence, including partner violence, sexual assault, homicide, and suicide; risky sexual behavior; and miscarriage, sudden infant death syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome among pregnant women. These are further increased by engaging in binge drinking. Prolonged alcohol abuse produces long-term and sometimes irreversible effects. Alcohol damages the heart, blood vessels, and vital organs, leading to chronic high blood pressure, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and cancers in the mouth, throat, liver, colon, and breast tissue. Long-term alcohol use also damages a user’s immune system and affects the brain, leading to dementia, memory loss, depression, mental illness, antisocial behavior, isolation, and chemical dependency. Alcohol use is also statistically tied to problems like unemployment, familial violence, and financial neglect.

Am I Addicted To Alcohol?

If you fear yourself or a loved one may be suffering from a mental health or addiction disorder, our assessment tool may be of use. Although our assessments cannot replace a diagnosis from a trained medical professional, they can help determine how many symptoms a person is experiencing for any addiction or mental health disorder.

There is no reason to wait. If you have any reason to suspect you or someone around you may be dealing with a severe addiction or mental health disorder, take our assessment and reach out to us today!

What Are the Withdrawal Effects of Alcohol?

Most people who consume alcohol do not struggle with severe alcohol use disorder, also known as alcohol dependence or alcoholism. This disease is marked by an inability to stop or limit one’s drinking, even despite negative consequences, and needing an increasing amount of alcohol to produce the same effects.

Even if you don’t have an alcohol use disorder, if your body and brain are accustomed to the presence of alcohol in your system, suddenly cutting off your supply will result in withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of these symptoms will depend on your individual body and depth of habit, but are likely to include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and sudden mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Jumpiness, restlessness, shakiness
  • Nightmares and disturbing dreams
  • Impaired vision
  • Sweating and clammy skin
  • Headaches, nausea, and vomiting
  • Inability to sleep or eat
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Tremors, especially in the hands
Users with heavier habits can also experience seizures and intense hallucinations, beginning as soon as 12 hours after their last drink and lasting for 1-3 days. Hallucinations can be vivid, prolonged occurrences in which a person sees, hears, and feels detailed things that aren’t there. A smaller subset of people withdrawing from alcohol use will experience delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens begins around 2-3 days after a user’s last drink and can include:
  • High fever
  • Seizures
  • Intense hallucinations
  • Racing heart and rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure and heavy sweating
  • Severe mental agitation and confusion
The symptoms of delirium tremens are relatively rare, but if experienced, a person should seek immediate medical help.

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