Understanding The Dangers Of Overdosing On Alcohol

Spending time with friends and loved ones is a great way to relax. For some, these occasions will include alcohol.

As fun as drinking may seem at the time, there are many dangers of alcohol that could turn to having a few glasses of your favorite drink into something much more life-threatening.

Drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time can result in immediate impairments in decision-making, coordination, and impulse control. And if you continue to drink at this rate, it could lead to an overdose.

Here are some of the most prominent dangers of overdosing on alcohol.

The Definition Of An Alcohol Overdose

An individual can overdose on alcohol when the blood alcohol concentration present in the bloodstream has increased drastically. This has a direct impact on the way that the brain functions. Essentially, areas of the brain that control basic life functions (such as your heart rate and your ability to breath) will start to fail.

Who Is Most Likely To Be At Risk?

Consuming larger quantities of alcohol can be overwhelming for the body – to the point where it may be more difficult to break down and eventually clear the alcohol from the bloodstream. 

This generally leads to a rapid rise in blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and also tends to significantly impair both the brain and other normal bodily functions.

Any individual that drinks too much alcohol can quickly be put in the direct path of having an alcohol overdose. This is more relevant for individuals who often engage in the act of binge drinking, which leads to a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and can also cause many complications in return.

Teens and college-age adults that consume alcohol are some of the most at risk for experiencing an alcohol overdose. This is because they typically engage in high-intensity, excessive drinking at social events.

The Dangers Of A High BAC Level

A raised BAC level can have many awful consequences. 

  • Smaller BAC levels (0.200-0.249%) can result in an overall reduction in motor coordination, can cause feelings of nausea and vomiting, and can also severely impair judgment. 
  • BAC levels measuring anywhere between 0.250-0.399% is usually linked to alcohol poisoning or loss of consciousness.
  • When BAC levels reach (0.40%+) the individual may suffer blackouts, the onset of a coma, and even death as a result of respiratory arrest. 

Drinking alcohol at high levels can skew brain signals that control automatic responses, including the gag reflex, which could either result in choking on your own vomit, or even passing away from a lack of oxygen (asphyxiation).

It’s also important to remember that an individual’s blood alcohol level may even carry on rising even if a person has ceased drinking or has lost consciousness. This is because alcohol continues to enter directly into the bloodstream and is then circulated throughout the body.

Know The Signs

Taking a cold shower, drinking a hot coffee, going for a walk, and sleeping off the alcohol will not reverse the effects of an alcohol overdose. In fact, they could actually make things worse.

If you have suspicions that someone has overdosed on alcohol, it is crucial that you immediately call 911 to get help. Stay vigilant and keep an eye out for the critical signs and symptoms listed below, but do not wait for them to develop.

  • Clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Irregular (or slow) breathing
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Seizures
  • Slow heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Unconsciousness or inability to wake up
  • Vomiting

Waiting For First Responders To Arrive

Try to provide information to the responders, including the type and amount of alcohol the person drank, and whether the individual has also taken other substances. If you know the person and are familiar with their medical history (allergies, existing health conditions, or medication they are on) then you should inform the first responders of this information so they can begin treatment.

You must ensure that you do not leave the intoxicated individual by themselves. They are in a vulnerable state and are at severe risk of choking or suffering from an injury. Keep them on the ground either sitting or partially upright – rather than in a chair. 

If the person has begun to vomit, have them lean forward so their airways remain clear. But if they are unconscious or laying down, put them onto one side with an ear pressed against the ground so that they do not choke.


There are many dangers associated with overdosing on alcohol. As long as you keep an eye out for immediate signs, you could potentially help to save someone’s life. Most importantly, if you enjoy alcohol, ensure that you drink responsibly so that you are not at risk of experiencing this for yourself.