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Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms - Vomit, Slow Breathing, Passed Out, Cold Skin, Seizures

Hundreds of college students will die this year from alcohol poisoning - A tragic statistic of completely preventable deaths. These hundreds will leave behind many thousands more, roommates, friends, boy/girlfriends, people who were there with the victim but who didn’t know the danger sings of alcohol poisoning, and didn’t follow the steps that could have saved a life.

Take 5 minutes to learn the facts about alcohol poisoning, and know what to do when someone you care about enters into a dangerous situation.

Why is alcohol dangerous?

Alcohol (ethanol) is a toxic substance – essentially it is poison. If you consume a small quantity of ethanol, you will feel some pleasant sensations. If you consume alcohol in excess you will lose increasing control over you body and mind (get drunk) and if you continue to drink into extreme intoxication, you risk death. You can poison yourself to death, and it may take less alcohol than you think.

How does alcohol kill?

Alcohol is most well known for the dangers associated with longer term consumption and alcoholism, but it is also quite dangerous when taken acutely. Alcohol can kill a person in a single drinking session in 2 ways.

  1. Alcohol is a depressant. This means it slows down the activity of the brain. It can slow down the activity in parts of the brain responsible for controlling things like breathing and the gag reflex, and if you drink enough, it can slow or even stop these vital functions. Drink enough and you can simply stop breathing.
  2. Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach, and when you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, the stomach reacts as it would in the presence of any poison, and tries to expel the stomach contents – and you vomit. It's a safety mechanism. But since alcohol can also impair the gag reflex, people who pass out drunk and start throwing up are at great risk to choke on their own vomit, and many alcohol overdose deaths are from asphyxiation on vomit while passed out drunk.

Combining alcohol with other drugs or medications greatly increases the risks.

How much alcohol is too much?

Most people can metabolize about 1 drink per hour. Drinking at a rate greater than 1 per hour will result in increasing intoxication. There are a number of variables that influence the amount of alcohol a person can consume, and factors such as experience, body weight, stomach contents and fatigue will all influence the effects of alcohol on the body.

In some cases, as little as 6 drinks in an hour for a smaller person have proven lethal.

Many alcohol poisoning deaths occur after participation in drinking games or dares – scenarios where a person might drink far more alcohol far more quickly than they normally would. These games are especially dangerous due to the lag time of alcohol absorption into the blood stream. It takes a while to fully absorb all of the alcohol you drink (30-90 minutes for full absorption) so you might continue to quickly drink shooters, not knowing how dangerously intoxicated you were going to get.

Drinking games are very dangerous.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

The following signs indicate alcohol poisoning. If you see any of these symptoms, call an ambulance. Don't worry about being wrong, there may not be any second chances if you’re wrong and don't call.

  • The person has passed out and you can't wake them up
  • Seizures
  • Very slow breathing or irregular breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Very cold skin, blue lips, clammy skin or other signs of hypothermia
  • Vomiting
  • Pale skin

*Source NIAA

Don't let them sleep it off….

Very few college students drink themselves to death in isolation. Most that die do so in a group, and most are "put to bed" by friends who think that they just need to sleep it off.

Although only time will sober the person up, unsupervised sleep can be deadly, as the person may choke on vomit, may simply start breathing, may go into a hypoglycemic seizures or may vomit so much as to develop dehydration linked brain damage.

Leaving them alone is dangerous.

Alcohol Poisoning Video


ugh on December 27, 2015:

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I drank too much of all types of alcohol last night and puked in my sleep. Luckily I was on my side. I don't remember throwing up at all but the evidence was on the floor next to me. Really scary thinking if I had been on my back I could've died. Be careful everyone.

concerned friend on June 25, 2014:

My friend is very sick from drinking to much alcohol he has drunk 3 , 1 ltr bottle of scotch and he has collapsed on the bathroom floor. I managed to get him back into bed now i am a little concerned about him. Please if anyone has any advice.

Will on May 02, 2013:

I drank way too much vodka last week, and I was alone. Then I went out for a walk and can't remember anything else besides singing Elliott Smith out loud. My friend says I called him and he found me passed out in the sidewalk. I really don't remember any of it. Just thinking of drinking again makes me feel bad.

I'm 18.

paresh reddy,berham pur orissa,india on February 07, 2013:

be careful friends drink alcohol is very dangerous 4 healt and society

Wake-up call on June 24, 2012:

I had too much wine yesterday at a tribute party. Luckily, my sister walked me home. When I got inside my apt, I made it upstairs and ran into the bathroom. I actually fell into the tub, pulled myself up and threw up in the toilet. The next morning, I threw up a few more times. I also found my pants in the kitchen sink and a few lights on inside the apt - I don't remember doing those things. I live alone and I could have easily hit my head and killed myself. I should know better - I'm in my mid 40s! The last bad hangover I had was 2 years ago, so I thought I was doing ok….I think I'm kidding myself - I have to stop drinking - I can't handle it.

tt on June 15, 2012:

Ive had alchol poisoning too many times to count. Im 17 and ive nearly died probaly 80 times from almost drinking myself to death. thank god my friends took care of me. Its probally the worst feeling ever throwing up all night long and blacking out. Not once has any of my friends called 911 but i could have died anyone of thoughs times.

So scared on June 02, 2012:

Im 16, and yesterday my friends and I were drinking. There was only a little bit of alcohol, but my friend got alcohol poisoning. She was barely conscious and wouldn't respond to me, she vomited, was cold, and her pulse wasn't right. We rang an ambulance after a bit because we had no idea what to do and how serious the situation was. Later I found out that she hasn't eaten for three days, which probably means the alcohol was absorbed into her bloodstream much faster? It was horrible, if you're underage don't drink, because aswell as somebody being in such a critical situation, it's also illegal, which could mean there are many further complications.

Maj on April 01, 2012:

I had the worst experince I drink gray goose vodka at a bar non stop it was large quantities can't remember how many drinks they where large glasses with club soda most of it was vodka had 8 large drinks my husband recalls usually I drink 1.5 bottle of wine a day my body is used to it I usually pass tout everyday I'm only 26 year sold and it's scares me sometimes I have no limit my husband also drinks mostly beer. I am afraid that one day we will come home from the bar and I will stop breathing do to alcohol consumption I know I need help but I just love to drink.

poppetts on March 06, 2012:

i had THE worst experience of my life on saturday night, myself and my husband went out for dinner and drinks with friends for my birthday, he got drunk and so we came home earlier than everyone else, once home, he collapsed, i managed to sit him back up, but he laid back down, and stopped breathing, i could feel no pulse, so i called 911 while waiting for the paramedics, i noticed his face was turning blue, and his skin felt clammy and cold, he still wasn't breathing, thankfully the ambulance arrived in great time, hooked him up to machines etc and took him into the hospital. He had been mixing his drinks all night, champagne, beer, vodka, gin, shots, wine... this could have killed him, this has scared the hell out of me and i cannot get the image of him lying there out of my head... THINK before you drink! that stuff is not good for you!!

Darlene on February 26, 2012:

I got a phone call at work that my 19 year old son had passed out in the middle of a bar and has being taken home by strangers!!! I got home before them!!! I have never in my life been so scare!! We got him into the bathtub and made sure is was on his side.... Every time he moved I booked it up the stairs to make sure he was ok... Well one time he moved I booked it up the stairs to discover he was on his back and vomiting ... My husband and I just saved the life of our only child..... It has been 3 hours since he came home and I am so upset and scared ... I will not be sleeping until I know he is ok!!!! I hope no other parent or caregiver feel the fear I am feeling right now!!!! I also hope he will never drink to this point of alcohol poisoning again!!!

Gina on February 25, 2012:

Thank you so much for writing this hub. It was very informative.

Dumb on February 24, 2012:

Just finished vomiting for 10 hours. Had to force myself to drink water just so I had something to throw up. At the end if it I'm sure it was blood I was throwing up. Today I'm so sore I can't even move. So not width it..

josh on February 22, 2012:

What if I drink alot each night? How do I know when I will have near death

John on February 10, 2012:

Alright, this is a serious subject, but some people need to learn to type full, coherent sentances. Just saying.

Anne on February 06, 2012:

Im 24 years old,I started having seizure when I was 15 but I keep drinking alcohol I stop smoked drugs about 3 to 4 years from now but I still drinking a lot and I love it can I avoid alcohol?

usausa on January 18, 2012:

My boss wouldn't let me leave work one Sunday afternoon and bought me loads of drinks, I thought he was being friendly. about 8.30 I was getting drunk and wanted to go home but was told to stay as he was doing the kinetic clean. He talked me into staying , suddenly can't remember anything. apparently I collapsed while sat on my bar stool. I have a really high drink tolerance anyway... rarely get drunk however this time was different I'm wondered if there was valium in one of my drinks. I was practically unconscious for hours. I'm quite upset with him he could have killed me. and days later in still in loads of pain and feel very sick :(

Irishgirl on January 02, 2012:

I drunk over half a big bottle of vodka in God knows how much less than 20 minutes (it may even have been less than that cause i was very drunk and can barely remember anything about the night. People say i was lucky to have survived and i thought they were just being dramatic and shrugged it off until i really thought about how stupid i was. I am only 17 years old and was at a house party, and i drunk around 3 x70cl bottles of "fruit twist" cocktail and a half bottle of kopperberg, plus about 5 bottles of something else (Icant remember what they were but they were like WKDs)

The more i drank the more arrogant and obnoxious i became. I am normally an extremely decent girl and I was shocked when i listened to what my friends told me I did.

I'm a drunk on December 11, 2011:

I think it really depends on experience too. I usually drink around a12 pack to myself within a few hours and mix with a fifth of jim beam whiskey... Im actually really surprised I haven't been in any serious health situation over that. My wife is a drinker too, she'll kill off a couple bottles of wine and help with the whiskey. This article opened my eyes because theres no one to keep an eye on us.. Were stupid

Sashuke on December 10, 2011:

My mom just came home with me from bowling - She drank 3 glasses of red wine from 2:00 to 4:15 and she was whoozing the minute we got on the tube. I'm only 13, and I was really scared because I'm home alone, with my dad and sister at a rugby match. I've made sure she can vomit properly and I told her what this article said. She's trying to keep warm, and luckily, she wakes up if you call her name. So grateful! I think its because she didn't eat anything, and so the effects were increased as she vomited wine, I hope not blood, and a bit of birthday cake. I should have let her take me to a reastraunt - She wanted to go when we were walking towards the tube, but I told her I wasn't hungry. Waiting for Dad to come home... Many thanks for this article!

My girl on December 04, 2011:

My girlfriend just had alcohol poisoning last night! I didn't know what to do so I called a few of my buddies to come over and help her down the stairs and get her to the room! I kept her awake and kept her warm but she kept on throwing up! She woke I and I got her McDonalds and she passed out! Did that mean she could have alcohol poisoning?

sandhya shrestha on November 14, 2011:

i really wana to knw dat how much alcohol kills man........

matt on November 09, 2011:

Hey guys, get a free 10 day gamefly trial

marion Joy Dickerson on October 30, 2011:

I found my son dead in bed, when i got over him I did not smell any alcohol at all, i have a keen smell of alcohol even vodka. when i walked in my son's house his wife was in another room talking on the phone(to who I don't know. whenever I crawled over my son was already dead, even though his wife said she had just heard him snoring. When I put my face next to his I smelled no alcohol on his breath. my. I told his wife to call 911. She did not want an autopsy when I found my son he was already dead.His wife got half million dollors i got precious memories and torment on just how he really died . Grieving in Waco. over got over

Prams on October 21, 2011:

Please please dont Drink. Have experienced very bad. Vomiting, Uneasyness. You will not enjoy the dring if it goes beyond 2 drinks.

Just have 2 very very rarely, when you really feel like having and stop at 2.

hmm on October 19, 2011:

seems like the moral here is don't be an idiot when you drink.

joel on October 01, 2011:

Fix up this

Although only time will sober the person up, unsupervised sleep can be deadly, as the person may choke on vomit, may simply........ STOP ......breathing, may go into a hypoglycemic seizures or may vomit so much as to develop dehydration linked brain damage.

MaryAnn on September 28, 2011:

We just lost a coworker this way. His boss told me he went out drinking and came home, went to bed and apparently asphyxiated on vomit. His kid found him the next day. Saddest thing, he was old enough to know better. But no one ever thinks that it will happen to them.

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on September 26, 2011:

Thank you for writing this. My sons friend just died 2 days ago after choking on vomit after drinking. He was found 2 doors down from his house dead on the pavement. He tried to walk home and never made it. Just so so tragic.

Shay on September 26, 2011:

my mother used to be an alcoholic but she turned her life around because she didn't like us seeing her like that so think about your little brothers or sisters even your parents what would they do if they lost you to something that could have been provented.

hamza on September 25, 2011:

tell me how can i avoid from it

HAMZA on September 25, 2011:


Kate on September 19, 2011:

Thanks For the information, two nights ago I drank too much too fast and ended up puking non-stop from 12 am to 5 am. Luckily my friend knew to stay with me and make sure I didn't sleep. When I did pass out on the bathroom floor, she made a bed and turned me on my side and didn't sleep at all. I'm very thankful for her, she may have saved my life. Usually I never drink and when I do, I know my limits but I was being stupid. Drinking isn't worth it and I won't be doing it again for quite a while.

Jordan on September 18, 2011:

I didn't know alcohol was a poison. Thank you so much for the information and I learned my lesson the hard way. I was having a good time then I started vomiting and feeling sick

stupidgirl on September 05, 2011:

omg, last night i drank too much, 14 shots of tequilla and half a corona botthle, then i don't remmember anything, it was the first time that i passed out, thanks to all my friends and my mom who helped me, and im really sorry about what i did, i throw up in the street and it is a shame, everyone should know their limits and i didn't realize it, im only 19 but i shouldn't have done this, but anyone who is reading this, plzzzzzzzzz don't drink, or don't drink too much and too fast...u would regret!!!! plzzzzzzzzz don't do it... it doesn't worth it and u wouldn't enjoy the party...its just a shame...and a experience...

ricks abused ex wife on August 27, 2011:

i'm checking out these symptoms because my 17 yr old daughter insists on staying with her father after he

's finished a fifth of vodka and she is afraid he'll die. Fortunately, everyone finds the whole situation very amusing.

lionfishking from Philippines on August 16, 2011:

i had alcohol poisoning a year ago and was brought to a facility where i received alcohol poisoning treatment.

it was really hard to be in that situation.

thegirlfriend on July 27, 2011:

Tonight I am staying up to make sure he does not stop breathing in his sleep. He had been puking for over an hour and was fully aware he had alcohol poisoning but kept trying to tell me to go to bed. Luckily I know enough that you should not leave someone with alcohol poisoning by themselves. No matter what. It is worth the loss of sleep to save a life.... So.. To a night of restlessness. For a lack of better term, Cheers.

vilma on July 09, 2011:

my brother already died. we just got back the autocy report. so verry painful

Mel on May 21, 2011:

Last year when we were being drunk and stupid, one of my friends started vomiting and passed out. I got out a bowl and got her to drink water through out the night. She was barely conscious and while everyone went to sleep I stayed up the entire night to make sure she slept on her side, wiped her up and got her to drink water. The last time she puked, I started really worrying and told her of she vomited one more time, I'm calling 911. She woke up perfectly fine the next day and didn't remember the entire thing. To this day, my friends said I did too much and I should have just gone to sleep, I said I'd rather be safe than sorry. And reading this article was a reminder on how stupid and lucky we were and how I should have called 911 earlier.

em on March 15, 2011:

thanks for this information, i went to a party on the weekend and realised that i had no idea what to do when people drank way too much... luckily the birthday girl's mum works at a hospital. and thanks to this website, now i'll know what to do in the future :)

might be helpful if you describe the recovery position for people who don't know?

Joy Pugh on February 27, 2011:

My sixteen year old son got really wasted and passed out.What's worse is, I didn't even know he was drinkining.He passed out on the couch. He started throwing up and was choking on his vomit. I turned him on

his side. His face was pale and his lips blue. He appeared to be having a seizure so he had to be rushed to the hospital. He is okay now but I was afraid he was going to die

johnnysgirlxo on February 19, 2011:

good stuff im currently watching over a passed out drunk andi don't plan on sleeping until they wake up sober in 8 hrs. im terrified the reality of alcohol poisoning is absolutely horrifying.

Meh on February 19, 2011:

Uhm...I'm not going to reveal my age, but last night I drank 13 shots of 80 proof vodka, and forgot everything. I woke up and threw up about a quart of cleary yellow liquid. It's been about 26 hours, and my stomach still feels funny. But what's worse is whenevyer I even THINK about drinking again I almost throw up. Is this normal?

Wishiwouldlearnmylesson on January 09, 2011:

I am 30 years old and have been droning for 15 years. I still to this day will drink myself into oblivion. Not everyday, maybe 2 times a month. Every other month I'd say I drink until I'm so wasted if I don't make myself throw up I think I will have alchol poisening. Does anyone low what kind of damage I'm doing?-wishiwouldlearnmylesson

Lena on October 16, 2010:

I recently passed out from too much drinking. I probably had something like 8 shots of vodka in 2 hours.. I vomited everywhere, fell unconscious and the worst part: I don't remember a single thing. This article has made me aware of why it happened.. And I am swearing off alcohol altogether.. Best not to even drink any. Thanks

desi on August 27, 2010:

I will stop drinking after reading this and after having vomited this morning due to excessive consumption of Red Wine last night. What was excessive for me - drinking 3/4th of the bottle. I went to bed at 10 PM, woke up at 12:30 vomited, went back to bed, woke up at 3:30 had lots of water and Getorade, could not sleep for sometime, got up at 7:30 and freshened up and at 8:30 had a good vomit. Only then did I feel good and went back for a good 2 hours of sound sleep. Actually, I am 32 now and had vomited before too but it was like 5-6 years back when I was into alcohol abuse (And that means I used to have may be 2 bottles of wine or equivalnt) every now and then.

I am going to stop drinking altogether!!!!

Pandoras Box from A Seemingly Chaotic World on May 18, 2010:

My nephew died from alcohol poisoning, and left behind four fatherless children.

Great informative hub. They should pass it around to every high school and college kid.

Dorsi Diaz from The San Francisco Bay Area on April 06, 2010:

Someone near and dear to me recently called me after drinking too much. He was very sick and I would not leave him until his friends came to watch him. I had the feeling that he should not be left alone.... you have wrote a life-saving hub here and thank-you for sharing. I don't drink anymore,used to in my younger days but don't miss it.

Thanks again and thumbs up for great information.

art on February 14, 2010:

my friend may or may not have alcohol poisoning. we are taking her to the hospital because of the video listed above. i don't know if she has alcohol poisoning or not, but this website may have saved her life

Nikita Blu on January 10, 2010:

Great hub, a few years ago I drank so much in a short time that I had a seizure in the middle of a bar and had to be rushed to casualty. Needless to say I'm a lot more careful now :/ I wish I'd read this before I went out!

Research Analyst on July 27, 2009:

What a sad statistic that many will face it will take more awareness and education on how alcohol poisoning symptoms can have signs of how to much is deadly, and like you mentioned if one continues to drink into extreme intoxication, they risk death, due to poison to the body. wow.

Amy M from Manzano Mountains on May 20, 2009:

This is great information. Teens and some adults have no clue how dangerous alcohol is to them. I know I had some very near misses in my younger years. But for the grace of God, I should not be here.

So many of the teens are coming from dysfunctional, alcoholic, drug using homes. They have no other way to ease a pain that they cannot even identify. Keep your hubs coming on these topics. Thank you for your honesty.

Susan Reid from Where Left is Right, CA on March 21, 2009:

Very good info. My favorite line: "As little as 6 drinks in an hour for a smaller person have proven lethal..." That's a drink every 10 minutes!! Of course, it's been a looootttt of years since I played any drinking games, but that number struck me as high. On the other hand, who drinks 1 drink an hour???

I have known several people who surived alcohol poisoning (some multiple times). I have also known a few who died of it. I think you make a strong point that when you go drinking with friends, watch out for each other. And hope your body is able to eject the poison BEFORE you pass out!

KRC from Central Texas on March 21, 2009:

Thanks for a very informative hub. I've read about a number of deaths in our small town from kids who get too drunk and then are left to sleep it off just as you described above. Only then, to vomit and die. So tragic.

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