Alcohol Overdose – Signs, Risks and Treatment Programs in Nevada

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic mental health condition in which an individual has difficulty controlling their consumption of alcohol and will often drink more than they intend to. This is a chronic condition and can be very dangerous if left untreated. AUD can manifest in a variety of ways, such as through physical, social, and psychological symptoms.1

Physical signs of AUD may include tremors or shakes, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia, fatigue, and poor coordination. A person struggling with AUD may also have issues with their memory and concentration. They may have difficulty focusing on tasks at hand or recalling information from the past.1

Social symptoms could include impaired judgment, neglecting responsibilities at home or work, being irritable and demanding, having frequent arguments with family members or friends over alcohol use and avoiding social activities that do not involve drinking.1

Psychological symptoms could include extreme mood swings, increased anxiety levels, feelings of guilt about alcohol consumption, preoccupation with thoughts about drinking, difficulty accepting criticism about one’s drinking behavior, decreased motivation for activities that were once enjoyable, and spiraling into isolation.1

The consequences of AUD can be severe if left untreated. These consequences may include:1

  • Physical damage to the body due (such as liver cirrhosis or cancer)
  • Financial issues due to increased or irresponsible spending
  • Social alienation due to strained relationships with loved ones
  • Emotional distress that can result in depression or suicidal thoughts
  • An inability to maintain employment due to absences or unreliability
  • Relationship turmoil due to changed behavior
  • Academic hardships caused by poor performance

Fortunately, professional help is available. Treatment-seeking individuals can choose from a variety of evidence-based treatment options and begin their recovery journey toward a stable, healthy life.1

Can You Overdose on Alcohol?  

An alcohol overdose occurs when someone consumes large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time causing them to become severely intoxicated and possibly unconscious. When an individual consumes too much alcohol quickly, it overwhelms their body’s ability to process it. This can lead to an excess of toxic substances in the blood, which can cause vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness, and even death.2

Alcohol overdose is life-threatening because it significantly slows down the central nervous system. This can lead to breathing problems resulting in coma or death from oxygen deprivation within just minutes after ingesting too much alcohol. The amount consumed must exceed what would normally make the struggling individual intoxicated. This means that even small amounts can be lethal for some struggling individuals, as its effects may manifest differently from one person to another.2, 3

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Overdose?  

Symptoms that can indicate an alcohol overdose include:2

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Slow reflexes and reactions
  • Slurred speech and incoherent thoughts
  • Mumbling while speaking
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to walk or move properly
  • Shallow breathing
  • Low heart rate
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Blue-tinged skin indicating lack of oxygen and potential suffocation risk

If you or a person you know is exhibiting these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Alcohol overdose can be lethal and it requires urgent medical assistance.2

What are the Effects of an Overdose on Alcohol?  

The effects of an alcohol overdose on the body vary depending on the quantity and speed at which the struggling individual drinks. Generally speaking, consuming large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time will result in more serious symptoms than drinking smaller amounts spread out over a longer period of time, but this still varies from individual to individual and their tolerance levels.2, 3

When Should I Go to the Hospital for Alcohol Overdosing?  

If you believe that you or someone else has overdosed on alcohol, it is important to seek medical attention right away. You should call 911 immediately if you notice any signs or symptoms associated with an alcohol overdose such as confusion, dizziness, slow heart rate, or shallow breathing. It’s best not to wait until all the signs are present before seeking help as this could be dangerous and potentially life-threatening for the person who has overdosed.2

How do you Prevent Alcohol Overdose?  

There are several ways to prevent an alcohol overdose from occurring in the first place. The most effective way is simply not drinking at all – this eliminates any risk for the individual and those around them who may be affected by their actions under the influence of too much alcohol. If an individual chooses to drink responsibly, however, there are several things that can be done:4

  • Limiting the intake
  • Alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Not mixing different alcoholic beverages
  • Not drinking on an empty stomach
  • Eating food while consuming alcohol
  • Staying hydrated with plenty of water between drinks

The advice above may be useful for individuals who don’t struggle with any form of AUD. However, for individuals who are at risk for developing a dependence on alcohol or are already diagnosed with AUD, the safest option is complete abstinence. Individuals struggling with AUD are at a greater risk of a potentially deadly alcohol overdose, meaning that the advice typically recommended for healthy individuals is not suitable for them.4

Alcohol poisoning is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. It’s not safe to wait for the intoxicated individual to “sleep it off.” Until medical help arrives, it’s recommended that the person waiting with the struggling individual pays attention to the following:4, 7

  • Keep the struggling individual awake and walking around if possible,
  • Don’t give the struggling individual anything to eat or drink. This can make vomiting worse,
  • If they cannot stand, lay the struggling individual on their side to prevent choking if they vomit,
  • If the struggling individual is laying down, don’t leave them alone so they don’t turn on their back.

Alcohol Overdose Treatment Programs in Nevada 

There are many treatment centers in Nevada that specialize in AUD recovery. Treatment-seeking individuals can browse their options on SAMHSA’s treatment locator or they can opt for private treatment at the American Addiction Centers (AAC).5 AAC facilities offer a variety of evidence-based programs and services to help individuals struggling with AUD overcome their disorder.

Treatment-seeking individuals can access detoxification, medication for AUD, psychotherapy, and other support services in AAC’s facilities and increase their chances of a successful recovery from their illness. Professionals at AAC can help individuals struggling with AUD explore and process the causes of their addiction, find out what their triggers are, learn how to manage their symptoms, and enable them to overcome their disorder.

Treatment-seeking individuals can reach an experienced rehab navigator at AAC’s hotline, where they can discuss their situation and find a solution. The navigator can help the struggling individual find a suitable form of payment for treatment, assess the stage of their disorder and find an appropriate facility for it, and much more.

It’s important to once again note that individuals experiencing an alcohol overdose need to be taken to an emergency room. This means that a treatment center is not appropriate for this situation and that the best course of action is to call 911.2 Once the struggling individual has been stabilized, they may move on to treatment at a rehab facility. If needed, the treatment-seeking individual will go through a detoxification process and their withdrawal symptoms will be medically handled.

Frequently Asked Questions