In high school, they teach students about sex education, to protect young adults against STDs and unplanned pregnancy. They teach about the effects of drinking and driving, remember every 15 minutes? They teach about texting while driving, to prevent distractions on the road and promote personal safety. However, they failed to teach young adults about the consequences of drinking too much.
Alcohol poisoning kills six Americans daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is about 2,200 preventable deaths each year.
What is alcohol poisoning?
In short, it is too much alcohol consumed in too short of a time period, causing the blood alcohol concentration to rise. After too much alcohol is consumed, the oxygen levels and heart rate begin to slow down and the body slips into a coma. Fifty thousand cases are reported annually and if treated early enough, the patient may be saved.
Treatment may be as simple as inserting an intravenous drip, or performing a gastric lavage.
One does not have to be an alcoholic to get alcohol poisoning. In fact, 1 in 10 deaths caused by alcohol poisoning, is due to excessive drinking. The rest are the result of binge drinking.
What is binge drinking?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as, “A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to .08 g/dL.” Which is about four drinks in two hours for women and five drinks in two hours for men. The lethal dose of alcohol for an adult is 60kg/300g, which is equivalent to approximately 30 drinks.
Laws and regulations restrict bartenders from serving to individuals who are already drunk, but deeming someone as “drunk” is subjective. Over-serving alcohol in the state of California may result in a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or suspension of one’s bartending license for 35 days. This is less than a slap on the hand, if their negligence has cost you a loved one.
Alcohol poisoning is preventable.
If you suspect someone has consumed too much alcohol, call 911 immediately.
- Try to keep them sitting up, or keep them on their stomach
- Give them water, if they are able to drink
- Keep them warm
- Stay with them to monitor symptoms
This legal drug is in our homes, easily accessible, widely accepted…and deadly. Educating our youth on the problem is the first step to a solution that will save lives.