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    Signs of alcohol intoxication

    Need to identify the states of alcohol intoxication, also known as alcohol poisoning? Ada doctors explain the causes, symptoms, and treatment.

    Alcohol Intoxication

    Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

    Updated on April 8, 2022, 9:30 AM UTC

    What is alcohol intoxication?

    Alcohol intoxication, also referred to as drunkenness, ethanol intoxication, or alcohol poisoning in severe cases, is a temporary condition caused by drinking too much alcohol. The amount of alcohol needed for intoxication varies from person to person.

    Due to the wide availability of alcoholic beverages, acute intoxication is quite common – affecting almost 10 percent of adults in the United States alone, leading to an estimated annual economic cost of over $250 billion.

    The signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication result in alterations in a person's consciousness, cognition, perception, judgment, affect, or behavior. These can vary between people and depend on the severity of intoxication. Not only the effects of alcohol but also the complications caused by it – such as accidents and violence – are a major threat to a person’s health.

    Diagnosis of alcohol intoxication always requires ruling out other conditions. In moderate and severe cases, measuring the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is essential. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms and avoiding complications. Management and prognosis also vary depending on the degree of intoxication. The condition can be successfully prevented by abstaining from alcohol or at least limiting consumption.

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    In people affected, it is important to also check for an underlying alcohol use disorder.

    If you think that you might experience alcohol intoxication, get a symptom assessment with the free Ada app. Or find out more about how our symptom checker works before you try it for yourself.

    What causes alcohol intoxication?

    Generally, alcohol intoxication is caused by drinking too much alcohol. However, the amount of alcohol needed for intoxication varies from person to person. Factors that influence the likelihood of intoxication include:

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    Genes - can make people more resistant or susceptible to alcohol.

    Different types of alcohol can have different effects on a person’s health. - Besides ethanol, which is found in alcoholic beverages, other types can be found in products, such as industrial applications, antifreeze products, disinfectants, and antiseptics.

    Amount of alcohol, which is crucial for intoxication - Binge drinking, having five or more alcoholic beverages, generally leads to alcohol intoxication. - For some people, the threshold lies far below that. - Risk increases the higher the percentage of alcohol is in the beverage.

    Rate of alcohol intake affects the body’s ability to cope - The faster alcohol is ingested, the higher the risk of intoxication.

    Children and old people have a reduced ability to eliminate alcohol - Children are particularly at risk of accidentally ingesting alcohol found in colognes, perfumes, mouthwash, aftershave, or cough medication.

    Previous food intake and hydration level influence the effects of alcohol.

    Higher body weight increases the ability to eliminate alcohol.

    This makes women on average more susceptible.

    Underlying conditions, which can reduce the ability to eliminate alcohol.

    Certain medications can reduce the ability to eliminate alcohol.

    Frequency and pattern of alcohol use can influence the resistance or susceptibility to the effects of alcohol - Symptoms in frequent drinkers can be less predictable and sometimes less showing. - A person that rarely drinks can show signs of intoxication after small amounts of alcohol.

    What are alcohol intoxication symptoms?

    The signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication result in alterations in a person's consciousness, cognition, perception, judgment, affect, or behavior.

    These can vary between people and depend on the severity of intoxication. Symptoms in frequent drinkers can be less predictable and sometimes less showing.

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    Among people who do not live with a chronic alcohol problem, symptoms often relate to the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). These symptoms include:

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    Mild intoxication:

    BAC between 0.01 and 0.1 percent

    Feelings of wellbeing and confidence

    Disinhibition Urge to speak

    Feelings of tranquility and relaxation

    Mild deficits in coordination

    unsteady gait

    difficulties standing upright

    Slightly decreased attention, memory, and judgement

    Reddening of the skin or flushing of the face

    Slightly fastened heartbeat

    Moderate intoxication:

    BAC between 0.15 and 0.3 percent:

    Mood variability

    Pronounced disinhibition

    Slurred speech

    Greater deficits in coordination and psychomotor skills

    Increasing unsteadiness of gait

    Clumsiness

    Increasingly impaired attention, memory, and judgement

    Reduction in responsiveness, alertness, and reaction time

    Confusion

    Uncontrolled eye movements

    Sleepiness Dizziness Nausea and vomiting

    Impaired vision and sound localization

    Memory gap

    severe intoxication (alcohol poisoning):

    BAC greater than 0.3 percent:

    Delusions and hallucinations

    Severe difficulty speaking

    Severe dizziness

    Severe deficits in coordination and psychomotor skills

    Source : ada.com

    Intoxication

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    Intoxication

    Intoxication Identifying Problem Drinkers

    There are three basic types of drinkers: social drinkers, alcohol abusers, and alcoholics.

    Social Drinkers

    Most individuals who consume alcohol are social drinkers. For these people, drinking may not produce serious long-term health or social problems. Social drinkers may not experience the effects of chronic alcohol abuse, but they are still at risk for alcohol-related crashes following single bouts of drinking.

    Alcohol Abusers

    These are people who experience a pattern of drinking that interferes with their day-to-day activities. These persons are not yet physically dependent on alcohol.

    Alcoholics

    These are persons who experience physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. As a result, their ability to control drinking behavior is impaired. This impaired control is the critical difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

    Signs of Intoxication

    Look for these signs in your customers.

    Reactions

    Slurred speech

    Slow and deliberate movement

    Decreased alertness

    Quick, slow or fluctuating pace of speech

    Inhibitions

    Overly friendly Loud

    Changing volume of speech

    Drinking alone Annoying others Using foul language

    Drinking more or faster than usual

    Physical Appearance

    Red, watery eyes Disheveled clothing Sweating

    Smell of an alcoholic beverage on person

    Droopy eyelids Lack of eye focus Flushed (red) face

    Coordination

    Fumbling with money Swaying, drowsy Stumbling Bumping into things Falling

    Judgment

    Argumentative Belligerent Careless with money

    Irrational statements

    Losing train of thought

    Service to an Obviously Intoxicated Person

    The law states that no person may sell or give alcohol to anyone who is obviously intoxicated. Therefore, every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given any alcoholic beverage to any OBVIOUSLY intoxicated person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

    A person is obviously intoxicated when the average person can plainly see that the person is intoxicated. In other words, the person looks or acts drunk. This includes regular customers who “always act that way.” It does not matter if the person is driving. For there to be a violation of law, the prosecutor must prove that the seller either saw or had the chance to see the signs of intoxication before the service.

    Habitual drunkard – A person who has lost control over his or her drinking. No person may sell or give alcohol to anyone who is a habitual drunkard and no person may cause or permit this to occur.

    A store clerk may discover a habitual drunkard in one of two ways: (a) A family member tells you the person has a drinking problem and asks you not to serve, or (b) the patron is a regular customer and unable to handle drinking on a regular basis.

    A licensee or server who has been warned and still serves a habitual drunkard faces possible ABC disciplinary action and criminal prosecution. (Sections 25602(a) and 23001 Business and Professions Code; 397 Penal Code).

    Public Intoxication

    It is against the law for any person to be in public under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and unable to care for his or her own safety or the safety of others (Section 647(t) Penal Code). A person’s BAC level is not a factor in whether the person can be arrested under this law. Law enforcement officers look at the outward signs of intoxication in deciding whether to arrest the person.

    Driving Under the Influence

    Although licensees and/or employees should be concerned with outward signs of a customer’s intoxication level, they are not legally responsible for a customer’s driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge. However, by keeping the customer under the legal level, he or she will be more likely to get home safer and more likely to keep coming back.

    Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Criteria:

    .08% BAC or higher

    Motor vehicle on public roadway

    .04% BAC or higher for commercial drivers

    .01% BAC or higher if under age 21

    Drink Chart Guide

    # of Drinks Female Body Weight in Pounds Driving Condition

    100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240

    0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Only Safe Driving Limit

    1 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 Driving Skills Impaired

    2 .13 .11 .09 .08 .07 .07 .06 .06

    3 .20 .17 .14 .12 .11 .10 .09 .08 Legally Intoxicated

    4 .26 .22 .19 .17 .15 .13 .12 .11

    5 .33 .28 .24 .21 .18 .17 .15 .14

    Substract .01% for each 40 minutes that laps between drinks.

    1 drink = 1.5 oz. 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. 5% beer, or 5 oz. 12% wine.

    Fewer than 5 persons out of 100 will exceed these values.

    # of Drinks Male Body Weight in Pounds Driving Condition

    100 120 140 160 180 200 220 240

    0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 Only Safe Driving Limit

    1 .06 .05 .04 .04 .03 .03 .03 .02 Driving skills Impaired

    2 .12 .10 .09 .07 .07 .06 .05 .05

    3 .18 .15 .13 .11 .10 .09 .08 .07

    4 .24 .20 .17 .15 .13 .12 .11 .10 Legally Intoxicated

    5 .30 .25 .21 .19 .17 .15 .14 .12

    Substract .01% for each 40 minutes that laps between drinks.

    Source : www.abc.ca.gov

    Alcohol Intoxication: Acute, Symptoms, Treatments, Signs, and More

    Both young people and adults can experience alcohol poisoning. The condition is usually linked to drinking too many alcoholic beverages. But in some cases, people with this condition might have accidentally or intentionally drank household products containing alcohol, such as mouthwash or vanilla extract.

    Alcohol Intoxication: What You Should Know

    Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, M.D. — Written by Erica Cirino — Updated on June 29, 2018

    What is alcohol intoxication?

    Acute alcohol intoxication is a condition associated with drinking too much alcohol in a short amount of time. It’s also called alcohol poisoning.

    Alcohol intoxication is serious. It affects your body temperature, breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex. It can also sometimes lead to coma or death.

    Both young people and adults can experience alcohol poisoning. The condition is usually linked to drinking too many alcoholic beverages. But in some cases, people with this condition might have accidentally or intentionally drank household products containing alcohol, such as mouthwash or vanilla extract.

    Alcohol intoxication is considered a medical emergency. If you think someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

    What are the symptoms of alcohol intoxication?

    Alcohol intoxication can occur quickly over a short amount of time. When a person is consuming alcohol, you might notice different symptoms. These symptoms are associated with different levels, or stages, of intoxication.

    The stages of intoxication differ from person to person because they’re based on age, sex, weight, and other factors.

    But generally, the seven stages of alcohol intoxication and their symptoms include the following:

    1. Sobriety or low-level intoxication

    If a person has consumed one or less drinks per hour, they’re considered to be sober, or low-level intoxicated.

    At this stage of intoxication, the person’s behavior will be normal with no visible signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech or delayed reaction time.

    Their blood alcohol content (BAC), which measures how much alcohol is in the bloodstream, will be very low at 0.01 to 0.05 percent.

    2. Euphoria

    If a person has generally consumed two to three drinks as a man or one to two drinks as a woman in an hour, they’ll enter the euphoric stage of intoxication.

    Some symptoms include:

    an increase in chattiness and confidence

    a delayed reaction time

    decreased inhibitions

    Most people call this stage of intoxication being “tipsy.” A person’s BAC at this stage might range from 0.03 to 0.12 percent.

    Note that a BAC of 0.08 percent is the legal limit of intoxication in the United States. A person can be arrested for driving with a BAC above this limit.

    3. Excitement

    At this stage, a man might have consumed three to five drinks in an hour, or two to four drinks for a woman. At this time, a person will begin to experience emotional instability and a significant loss of coordination.

    Other symptoms include:

    a loss of judgment and memory

    vision problems loss of balance drowsiness

    A person will appear visibly “drunk” at this stage. They’ll have a BAC of 0.09 to 0.25 percent.

    4. Confusion

    If a man consumes more than five drinks or a woman more than 4 drinks in an hour, they’ll enter the next stage of intoxication: confusion.

    This stage of intoxication is marked by emotional outbursts and a major loss of coordination. The person may not be able to stand up, may stagger when walking, and will likely be extremely confused about what’s going on.

    People in this stage of intoxication are very likely to forget things happening around or to them. They might “black out” without actually losing consciousness and may not be able to feel pain. This makes them at risk of injury.

    At this stage, a person’s BAC is very high. It’ll range from 0.18 to 0.30 percent.

    5. Stupor

    At this stage, a person no longer responds to the things happening around or to them.

    A person won’t be able to stand or walk. They may completely pass out or lose control over their bodily functions, becoming incontinent or vomiting uncontrollably.

    They may also experience seizures or have blue-tinged or pale skin. Their breathing and gag reflexes will likely be impaired.

    This stage can be very dangerous and even fatal if a person chokes on their vomit or becomes critically injured.

    Any of these symptoms are signs that immediate medical attention is necessary. At this stage, a person’s BAC will range from 0.25 to 0.4 percent.

    6. Coma

    This stage is extremely dangerous. A person’s breathing and blood circulation will be extremely slowed. Their motor responses and gag reflexes are nonfunctional, and their body temperature drops. A person at this stage is at risk of death.

    Their BAC will measure in at 0.35 to 0.45 percent. Emergency medical attention is necessary at this point to avoid death and severe health problems.

    7. Death

    At a BAC of 0.45 percent or above, a person is likely to die from alcohol intoxication.

    It may seem like a person has to drink a lot to get to this stage. But if a person drinks very quickly, they can get to this stage before long.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates excessive alcohol use causes approximately 88,000 deaths annually

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    in the United States.

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    Source : www.healthline.com

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