Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can be life threatening. It occurs when alcohol is consumed at a rate too fast for it to be absorbed normally through body processes. As a result, the excess alcohol causes increased heart rate, body temperature, and other effects that can be deadly. If an individual shows some of these common signs of alcohol poisoning, he or she should get immediate medical attention. According to the National Institutes of Health statistics, most alcohol poisonings occur in the age group of 35 to 54. However, people of any age who consume a large amount of alcohol too quickly can succumb to alcohol poisoning. Experienced drinkers are less likely to experience alcohol poisoning than inexperienced drinkers.

Possible Signs of Alcohol Poisoning


Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Common Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Even normal amounts of alcohol consumption are known to cause impaired thinking. However, when alcohol levels in the body reach dangerous levels, the mental confusion increases to a more noticeable level. The person may become incoherent and may not be able to answer simple questions. This effect is one of the common signs that an excessive amount of alcohol has been consumed in a short period of time beyond the body’s ability to absorb it.

Irregular Breathing

One of the more significant signs of alcohol poisoning is irregular, labored, or slow breathing that results from the alcohol’s suppression of the respiratory system. This effect can be particularly hazardous for those with breathing problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) or other respiratory conditions. The high level of alcohol in the body interferes with normal breathing patterns and causes a respiratory emergency. The heart and lungs become anesthetized with high alcohol consumption, which can initiate an emergency situation.


Excessive alcohol can cause vomiting. This effect can be especially hazardous if the person is unconscious and breathes in the vomited material. Vomiting with unconsciousness is a medical hazard, and the person should be put onto his or her side to ensure that the ejected material is not inhaled into the lungs.

Low Body Temperature

Large amounts of alcohol can also prevent the body’s temperature regulating system from functioning normally, leading to a drop in core temperature. This can demonstrate in a number of ways, such as:

  • Shivering or complaining of coldness
  • Pale color to the skin
  • Blue-colored tinge to the skin from poor circulation


The effects of large amounts of alcohol consumed in a short period can cause the tissues of the brain to become overwhelmed, causing electrical disturbances and seizures. Although seizures are rarely life threatening, they can cause severe brain disturbances and require medical treatment to ensure there are no long-lasting effects.


Unconsciousness is one of the primary signs of alcohol poisoning and may cause people around the person to seek medical attention for them. If the person cannot be roused by normal means, you should immediately call for medical help. Immediate treatment can save lives.

If someone you love has experienced one or more episodes of alcohol poisoning, he or she may have an alcohol dependence problem that requires inpatient treatment to deal with a number of issues surrounding the problem. Contact a qualified treatment facility to find effective ways to deal with the dependency issue.