Alcohol intoxication occurs when an individual consumes a large quantity of alcohol in a limited period of time. Acute alcoholism is a frequent phenomenon that occurs among younger individuals, especially on weekends. Alcohol intoxication can occur in a mild form, resulting in symptoms such as headachenausea, and loss of appetite, or fester into a more severe condition, impairing mental and physical abilities. This state may require the assistance of a skilled health professional.

The effects of alcohol vary greatly from individual to individual. Several factors can account for differences in how certain amounts of alcohol can affect one individual more than another. These factors may include: taking certain medications, having certain medical conditions, having prior experience with alcohol, and blood alcohol concentration. A majority of individuals who are intoxicated by alcohol are often cared for at home with rest and hydration. It is extremely common for an intoxicated individual to vomit; however, if vomiting is continuous, they should be taken to the emergency room for evaluation.

What are the symptoms associated with alcohol intoxication?

The first stage of alcohol intoxication is characterized by a state of excitement or excessive euphoria and is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • Alcoholic odor on breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bright Eyes
  • Increased pulse
  • Logorrhoea
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Flushing
  • Increased breathing frequency
  • Loss of self-awareness

After the initial stage, follows the stage of depression with the following symptoms:

  • Babbling
  • Hypothermia
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • In more severe cases, respiratory paralysis and risk of coma

What to do

If vital functions are impaired, it is advisable to keep the intoxicated individual under observation, and possibly offering them something light to eat and keeping them warm.  If the individual needs to vomit, it is necessary to put them in a lateral position in order to avoid inhalation of the vomit or risk of choking. In more severe cases, going to emergency room or calling an ambulance is necessary to avoid further complications.

The following information should be provided upon hospital admission in order to help determine the most appropriate form of treatment.

  • What kind of alcohol has the individual been drinking and during what period of time?
  • Is the individual suffering from any specific diseases, such as liver disease or metabolic disorders?
  • Did the individual consume any drugs with the alcohol?
  • Was the alcohol consumption accompanied by food intake?

Given the lack of clarity of the intoxicated individual, it is  important not to lose sight of that and pay attention to them so they do not hurt themselves or others.

What not to do

Since there are many myths about how to deal with intoxicated individuals, it is important to be aware of what NOT to do:

  • Avoid the consumption of sugary foods (can increase alcohol content)
  • Never let the intoxicated individual sleep it off
  • Never try to make them vomit (the gag reflex will not function properly and they can choke)
  • Never put them under a cold shower (this could lead to hypothermia)
  • Never let them drink more alcohol


Disclaimer: The information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.