Alcohol overdose: How much amount of alcohol to OD?
How much alcohol does it take to really be in trouble? We review alcohol overdose as how alcohol works in the body here and invite your questions about binge drinking at the end.
What is the danger of drinking too much alcohol? How are intoxication and overdose related? We explore the answers to these questions below. Then, we invite your questions about drinking too much alcohol at the end; we try to will answer legitimate questions personally and promptly.
How does unintentional alcohol overdose happen?
People drink alcohol mainly for effect – they want to feel better. The effect for someone may be relaxing, while, for others, can stimulate socializing and celebrating. But when do you cross the line into possible alcohol overdose? Alcohol is a depressant and is considered to be a drug because it is a substance with no nutritional value. Additionally, alcohol has the power to cause changes in a person’s physical and emotional state.
However, the term “overdose” does quite fit alcohol use. This term is mainly used for drugs; for alcohol, “overdose” is called intoxication. Alcohol intoxication is the physiological state caused by alcohol consumption. When drinking moderately, the user feels only the regular effects of drinking. But when drinking too much, the user is alcohol intoxicated, meaning drunk.
Alcohol overdose – How much is too much?
The amount of drink in the glass does not determine the actual amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, there is almost no difference in the alcohol level between light beer and a regular one. The level of pure alcohol, ethanol, in a single drink, is what adds up when users are consuming several glasses or even bottles in a row. One mixed drink, such as a cocktail, multiplies the alcohol level within a single drink.
In the U.S., what’s considered to be a standard drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol. That evens out to 1 big glass of beer, or 1 glass of table wine, or 1 shot of tequila. No more than 2 drinks daily and no more than 14 drinks weekly is considered moderate for men. No more than 1 drink daily and no more than 7 drinks weekly is considered moderate for women.
It takes roughly 90 minutes for a healthy liver to metabolize each of these drinks, consumed separately. When consumed faster, or when drinkers drink multiple doses of alcohol with higher ethanol presence at the same time, the blood concentrations are higher and the intoxication affects the user. What are these effects? Over 400 mg/dL of ethanol in the blood could lead to respiratory failure and coma. Alcohol intoxication is considered a medical emergency due to the risk of death from respiratory depression, and inhalation of vomit, because of loss of consciousness.
Alcohol overdose complications
Alcohol intoxication can be dangerous for many reasons, both for the user and for surrounding people. Possible complications of alcohol overdose include:
- damage to a developing fetus
- dilation of blood vessels
- impaired brain function
- increased risk of certain cancers, stroke, and liver cirrhosis
- increased risk of motor-vehicle traffic crashes
- loss of balance and motor skills
- poor judgment
- rapid loss of body heat
- reduced reaction time
- slurred speech
Alcohol overdose prognosis
The experience of various unpleasant psychological and physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcohol is called a hangover. Hangovers usually lasts for up to 24 hours and are mostly related to the ethanol blood concentrations. Some hangover symptoms are related to the alcohol intoxication and its withdrawal symptoms. Often, alcoholics experience memory blackouts and/or live with a permanently damaged liver.
The liver’s performance depends on many factors. For example how much the user usually drinks, what and how often. Also important is the age, overall health status, and the family history when it comes to alcohol abuse. People who have been drinking heavily for several days or weeks may have withdrawal symptoms after the intoxication.
Alcohol overdose death rate
More than 25,000 people die from alcohol-induced causes in the U.S. per each year. This includes deaths from dependent and non-dependent use of alcohol, as well as deaths from accidental poisoning by alcohol. The death rate for males was three times the death rate for females.
Alcohol overdose amount questions
If there is something more you would like to know about drinking, intoxication, or alcohol overdose, you will have the chance to ask your question in the comments section below. We will try to help you get the most accurate and useful answer possible.
Reference Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Vital Statistics Reports
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism/Alcohol: Standard Drink
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