Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol
Alcohol Poisoning - Driving Under The Influence

Alcohol Poisoning - Know The Risks: Driving Under The Influence

Updated Nov. 20, 2019

If your blood alcohol concentration surpasses a safe level, you can become dangerously ill very quickly. This is known as alcohol poisoning; it occurs when your liver is overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol in your blood and can no longer filter it rapidly enough to protect you. The effects of alcohol poisoning are often severe and frequently lead to brain damage or death.

Young people and teenagers are affected by alcohol poisoning far more frequently than older adults, for two reasons:

  1. 1

    Risk-taking behavior.
    Young people are less aware of danger, prone to risk-taking behavior and unlikely to realize they have a low tolerance for alcohol.

  2. 2

    Binge drinking.
    Young people often engage in an excessive form of drinking known as binge drinking, during which a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol in a single sitting.

Binge drinking is an especially dangerous way to consume alcohol. The term describes intermittent sessions of heavy alcohol consumption. For instance, a binge drinker may consume no alcohol throughout the week but then have many drinks on a Friday or Saturday evening. Technically, a man is said to be binge drinking if he consumes five or more alcoholic drinks in a row and a woman is said to be binge drinking if she consumes four or more. Usually, this drinking occurs over a very short time span of two to three hours, resulting in extremely high and dangerous BAC levels.

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning

A person suffering with alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention, or they may die. In a situation where your friends are drinking, you must keep an eye out for the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. This deadly condition can develop and worsen RAPIDLY, especially when consuming a lot of alcohol in a short time (as would be the case with drinking “challenges” and shots of hard liquor).

A person with alcohol poisoning might:

  • Be semiconscious or completely unconscious
  • Unresponsive to pinching, shaking and other things that would usually wake a sleeping person
  • Be breathing slowly or irregularly
  • Have a slow heart rate or weak heartbeat
  • Vomit while unconscious
  • Have cold, clammy, pale or blue-tinted skin

Keep in mind that a person suffering with alcohol poisoning may only display one or two of these symptoms. If you believe that somebody is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.

Vomiting

Vomiting is a common response to drinking too much alcohol. It can help to prevent further intoxication, as your stomach will be emptied of any alcohol still waiting to be absorbed into the blood through your intestines. However, vomiting up alcohol does not mean a person is out of danger as far as alcohol poisoning is concerned. There will still be alcohol in their blood that is waiting to be processed by the liver, which will already be under a lot of strain. Vomiting can worsen the effects of this alcohol when it is absorbed, as it rids your body of essential fluids needed to dilute the poison.

If somebody vomits after having too much to drink, make sure they replace their lost fluids by drinking water and stop them from consuming any more alcohol. It is likely that their body will still need several hours to recover from the affects of their excessively high BAC. Do not allow a person who has recently vomited to go straight to sleep, as they may vomit again while unconscious. While a sober person would usually wake up in response to nausea, an intoxicated person may be in too deep a sleep to come around and end up drowning in their own vomit.

Dealing with alcohol poisoning

If you believe a person is experiencing alcohol poisoning, your first action must be to call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Then, remember the following alcohol poisoning first-aid rules:

  1. 1

    Try to keep the person awake or wake them up if they are already unconscious.

  2. 2

    Roll them on to their side, where they will be less likely to choke on their own vomit.

  3. 3

    If they are unconscious and their hear rate drops below 40 beats per minute, they are breathing less than 8 breaths per minute, or both, perform CPR.

  4. 4

    DO NOT try to force feed them food or coffee as they may choke.

  5. 5

    DO NOT put them in a cold shower as their body temperature may already be dangerously low.

  6. 6

    Do not try to make them vomit.

The 911 lifeline law

Most states have some form of medical amnesty law which protects underage drinkers from prosecution if they report a medical emergency. This law usually applies both to drinking and possession of alcohol; in some areas it may also cover possession of drugs. Keep in mind that in many states, only the FIRST person to report the medical emergency will be protected from prosecution. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you believe somebody needs immediate medical attention.

Would you pass a driving test today?

Find out with our free quiz!

TAKE A FREE TEST

Like the article? Give us 5 points!

Click a star to add your vote

5.0 out of 5 stars based on 2 votes.

Read next

Long Term Health Effects of Alcohol Consumption
Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 11 of 12

Long-Term Impact of Alcohol

Alcohol is technically a drug in that it is a “substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” In addition to the obvious short-term negative impact, alcohol consumption can seriously damage your mind and body when used repeatedly over a prolonged period.

The Impact of Destructive Habits
Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 12 of 12

Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

In addition to making you unfit to drive, disrupting your mental health and wreaking havoc on your body, alcohol abuse will have a far-reaching negative impact on your life and future. People who consume alcohol irresponsibly often find themselves experiencing guilt, shame and confusion over things they did while drunk.

Driving Under The Influence of Drugs
Driving Under The Influence of Drugs 1 of 10

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Drug-impaired driving is a growing problem in the United States. Unlike alcohol, drugs vary so dramatically in their effects. It is your responsibility to ensure you are mentally and physically fit to drive. The law does not distinguish between different types of drug impairment.

Review
Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 4 of 12

Alcohol-related Sensory Impairment

Alcohol’s effects on your brain begin just minutes after you take the first sip of your beverage. Your mental ability is adversely affected, and your muscles do not respond to instructions as efficiently as usual. The negative impact of alcohol on your driving ability will become more severe as you become more intoxicated:

Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 5 of 12

Alcohol-related Physical Impairment

While alcohol is hi-jacking your brain to wreak havoc on your perception, judgement and motor skills, it is also disrupting other important systems directly. Remember that one way or another, alcohol ends up in your blood. From here, it has access to every tissue and vital organ in your body.

Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 6 of 12

The Physiology of Intoxicated Driving

Driving is an activity which requires physical coordination, swift reactions, keen observation and the ability to process information effectively. As alcohol intoxication has a detrimental effect on each of these skills, it will significantly impair your ability to drive safely.

Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 7 of 12

Alcohol’s Effect on Cognition

Cognition is the mental process of collecting information, forming thoughts and making decisions based on what you know. If any aspect of the cognitive process is impaired by alcohol while you’re driving, you are likely to make unsafe decisions, endangering yourself, your passengers and all other road users nearby.

Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 8 of 12

The Effects of Alcohol on Your Driving Skills

Your responsibilities as a driver and alcohol do not mix. You must do everything within your power to avoid injuring yourself, injuring other road users or damaging property. Even very small amounts of alcohol can impair your mental and physical driving ability and so you must not drink and drive.

Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol 9 of 12

Alcohol & Emotional Fitness

Experiencing an intense negative emotion will directly disrupt your ability to remain attentive while driving, affect the decisions you make in response to events on the roadway and alter your behavior towards other drivers. Drinking alcohol affects your emotional fitness both in the short-term and over time