How To Treat Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can lead to lasting brain damage if not treated immediately. If the alcohol content in your bloodstream is too high, it can be fatal. But the symptoms of alcohol poisoning can be treated.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six people in the United States, on average, die every day from alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol overdose often happens when binge drinking, for example, leads to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is too high. This results in:

  • slowed breathing and heart rate
  • confusion
  • low body temperature
  • blacking out
  • vomiting

Not only can the effects of alcohol poisoning lead to death, but the complications can be life-threatening as well. People experiencing alcohol overdose can choke on their own vomit or fall, getting a head injury or even permanent brain damage.

If you notice the effects of an alcohol overdose in yourself or your loved one, it is important to know what to do. First, call 9-1-1.

Following that, there are actions you can take while waiting for help to arrive.

Prehospital Treatments For Alcohol Poisoning

There are many myths about how to recover from heavy alcohol consumption, such as drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, and walking it off.

As you will see, these actions do not reverse alcohol poisoning and can, in some cases, make it worse.

Provide Water

Alcoholic beverages are diuretics, which means they inhibit the body’s ability to retain water. One of the dangers of drinking alcohol heavily is severe dehydration.

So people experiencing alcohol overdose do not need coffee, which is also a diuretic, but water. If they can hold it down, water will help rehydrate them.

Keep The Person Awake

Do your best to keep someone awake who is experiencing an alcohol overdose. Loss of consciousness from the effects of alcohol can be dangerous.

People who have passed out from alcohol overdose have sometimes choked on their own vomit because of a dulled gag reflex.

Keep them from passing out as best you can, but do not make them take a cold shower. It could shock their body temperature into hypothermia.

Limit Walking

Unlike the traditional remedy, you should limit walking. One of the complications of alcohol poisoning comes from accidental falls due to motor skill impairment.

Treatments Offered For Alcohol Poisoning At The Hospital

The role of hospitals in the case of alcohol poisoning is to offer supportive care to the patient. This kind of healthcare treats the symptoms and helps the body deal with the problem.

It includes such interventions as:

  • medical monitoring
  • keeping the airway open
  • offering vitamins and glucose

Here are some treatments offered for alcohol poisoning.

IV Fluids

IV fluids are used to combat severe dehydration from heavy drinking by replacing fluids lost from the effects of the overdose and also from the effects of vomiting that may have taken place.

Flush Stomach Of Toxins

If a person has had a dangerous amount of alcohol, doctors may decide to flush the stomach. This prevents more alcohol (whatever is still in the stomach) from entering the bloodstream.

Oxygen Therapy

Oxygen therapy is now commonly associated with the coronavirus, but it is also used to treat alcohol overdose.

A high blood alcohol level can suppress other things that need to be in the bloodstream, such as blood sugar (leading to hypoglycemia) or blood oxygen.

Oxygen therapy helps bolster blood oxygen levels, correcting the irregular breathing issues that accompany alcohol poisoning.

Follow-Up Treatment For Alcohol Poisoning: Alcohol Treatment Programs

After recovering from alcohol poisoning, you or your loved one need a treatment program that can address the root of your alcohol use disorder.

Treatment programs for alcohol abuse can give you the tools you need to achieve sobriety and keep it.

Find Quality Alcohol Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Surviving alcohol poisoning is just the beginning of the substance use recovery journey.

At Bedrock Recovery Center, based in Massachusetts, you can continue your journey toward sobriety with a treatment plan that we design with your health and best individual outcome at heart.

Call our helpline today and learn more about an alcohol treatment program for you.

  1. Binghamton University: State University of New York's%20gag%20reflex%20may,falls%20or%20other%20accidental%20harm.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  3. Mayo Clinic
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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