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Alcohol poisoning can be a dangerous, life-threatening condition. Learn more about the causes and symptoms, and how to get help if you need it.

About alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking too much within a short period of time. 

When you are drinking a lot, your liver cannot keep up with processing the toxins in alcohol. At this point, the alcohol will stay inside. This will keep adding up the more you drink within that space of time. Your body will be forced into ‘shutdown’ mode. 

Alcohol poisoning is an extremely dangerous situation that we need to take seriously. This is not just a bad hangover. If not treated on time, it can lead to brain damage and death. 

Signs and symptoms

Getting to know the signs of alcohol poisoning might save someone’s life.

There are visible symptoms such as:

  • confusion
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • blue-looking or pale skin
  • being uncoordinated or stumbling a lot
  • passing out and unable to be woken up

If you’re close enough to someone, you may notice:

  • Slow breathing or heartbeats (fewer than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Damp skin
  • Low body temperature

Getting help

If you see someone with alcohol poisoning, do not leave them alone. Treat this as an emergency. 

If you’re able to, do the following:

  • Call 111. You will not get into trouble for taking action.
  • Try to keep the person awake, upright and warm.
  • If they are breathing but not responding, place them lying down on their side. Keep their mouth free of vomit.