10 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22,000 deaths occur alone as a result of Alcohol Poisoning. This number can be decreased to a great extent if timely treatment of Alcohol Poisoning takes place! Treatment of Alcohol Poisoning, like any other disease, requires professional expertise. This means you cannot treat Alcohol Poisoning on your own and need to consult a skilled health care professional. They will examine your symptoms, take some blood and urine tests and develop a treatment regime for you. To read more about the Treatment of Alcohol Poisoning, simply scroll down!

A drunk person passed out next to a bottle of alcohol on grass.

Alcohol Poisoning is a serious medical emergency where there is a literal danger to your life. It occurs when you consume a large amount of alcohol within a short duration. For example, drinking continuously for an hour or more. 

You might be at risk of Alcohol Poisoning if you have a habit of drinking more than the advised limit. The limit for drinking per day is 2 or fewer drinks for men while 1 drink or less for women. 

During Alcohol Poisoning, Alcohol begins to have drastic effects on almost all your vital organs. It is imperative that even if you experience the mild symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning, you get yourself examined by a trusted and skilled healthcare professional.

NOTE: This is the standardized limit that keeps your BAC below 0.08% if you cross this limit and raise your BAC levels, you will be considered legally intoxicated!

Similar to any other disease, the severity of Alcohol Poisoning varies from one person to another. This calls for different management steps to treat the condition. 

Alcohol poses an immense threat to your functioning systems, but the degree of these effects is the real deal. You may suffer from mild to moderate symptoms which might not even need medical intervention and you may recover with time. In such a case, the toxicity from Alcohol is not profound thus immediate attention must not be required.

However, this can only be determined by your doctor therefore before jumping to any conclusions, a prompt checkup by your physician is highly recommended!

Emergency Medical Intervention for Treatment of Alcohol Poisoning

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning are not always mild. This is because excess Alcohol has a depressive effect on your mind and body which can ultimately lead to the interruption in the basic functions needed to ensure your survival. In such a scenario, you may experience the extreme consequences of Alcohol Poisoning which range from a coma to mortality.

Therefore to eliminate even the slightest possibility of such fatal outcomes, an emergency medical intervention becomes highly essential. Once in the hospital, the managing physicians and staff will swiftly take action to hemodynamically stabilize you. Hemodynamic stability is the measure of your vital functions such as 

  • Consciousness and Orientation
  • Blood Pressure
  • Heart Rate
  • Peripheral Pulse
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Body Temperature
  • Urine Output

These hemodynamic Stability parameters help establish a high-risk patient from a low one. So as soon as you step into an emergency unit, these vitals are looked after. For this reason, the following management steps are taken to keep your functions within a normal range. 

Intravenous Fluids

A surplus amount of Alcohol results in an unusual degree of dehydration. Dehydration then results in the loss of balance of electrolytes and sugars. This is because the key regulator in balancing your electrolytes is indeed water. Therefore at the first instance, you are administered with Normal Saline to maintain the normal gradient of electrolytes of your body. In addition to this, you are also provided with dextrose to keep your sugar levels in control. 

Supply Of Oxygen

There is no questioning the dire need for oxygen to keep you well and alive. Therefore the utmost priority while treating a critical patient of Alcoholic Poisoning, the main focus is fixed on a regular and uninterrupted supply of oxygen. Your breathing must be regular and within the normal range, meaning 20 times per minute with regular intervals. Therefore to attain this necessity, you will be provided with an exterior supply of oxygen through your nasal cannula. 

However, in case of an obstruction in your nasal pathway, the doctors may also insert an endotracheal tube which will keep your breaths rhythmical! At this point, regular and rhythmic breathing tops your wishlist! A gentle reminder to not take your health for granted.

Gastric Pumping 

When you drink, the Alcohol pours down and fills up your stomach entirely. If your stomach remains full of Alcohol, it will continue being absorbed into your circulation. Therefore the quickest way of getting rid of such an amount of Alcohol is to reverse this process and empty your stomach of Alcohol. This is done through Gastric pumping. It is a clinical procedure performed in an emergency unit. During this process, the contents of your stomach are cleared out by inserting a tube. This is also known as Gastric Lavage or Nasogastric Tube Suction.


It has been found out through multiple studies that Alcohol can increase the frequency of urine output as soon as 20 minutes after the consumption of Alcohol. This means even if you are a very sophisticated person and possess admirable social cues, you can easily develop urinary incontinence due to Alcohol Poisoning. 

Urinary incontinence refers to the involuntary leaking of urine. This means you are no longer able to control the mobility of your urethral sphincter. In such a scenario, your doctors will insert a catheter. Foley catheter is among the commonly used catheters.


You might have heard that the liver holds the most importance while metabolizing Alcohol from your body. This is true but the entire credit isn’t due for the liver alone. Your kidneys also contribute to filtering out Alcohol from your blood. However, when you consume a large amount of alcohol within a short period, as is the case in Alcohol poisoning, it produces a huge strain on your poor kidneys. This results in the weakening of your kidneys over time and sadly, your kidneys then become a playground for a variety of Chronic Kidney Diseases.  

Alcohol Allergy Symptoms and Treatment

In the worst-case scenario, your kidneys are no longer able to filter Alcohol from your blood. This is when you are put on dialysis.

Did You Know?

  •  In addition to the liver and kidneys, your stomach also plays a part in metabolizing Alcohol! There is an enzyme known as Alcohol Dehydrogenase present in small quantities in your gastric mucosa. This enzyme is the key to metabolizing Alcohol and is primarily present in your liver!

What is the on-spot treatment for Alcohol Poisoning? Well, there is not any! Alcohol Poisoning is a frightening medical condition that can lead to terrifying consequences if not treated by the concerned health care professionals. 

Even a superman cannot perform all jobs. He can save the world but can he cook, clean, or babysit a kid? Possibly not. Thus, even if you are a man or woman of many talents, this is beyond your reach. The only on-the-spot treatment you can do is to dial 911 and call for help immediately if you find someone near you experiencing Alcohol Poisoning. However, in addition to this, you can also be vigilant of the following points till the paramedics reach you.

  • You should never leave a person alone or unsupervised if you see them suffering from symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
  • You should try keeping them hydrated even if the intake is just small sips of water
  • You should make sure the breathing is regular 
  • You should make them sit upright
  • You should keep them engaged with the surroundings so their consciousness is retained
  • In case of continuous vomiting, you should make them lie down but with their head turned sideways. This will prevent chances of sudden death due to choking
  • You should not them lie on their back
  • You should cover them with a blanket

There are different types of Alcohol present in your typical beverages. These are usually methanol, diethylene glycol, and ethylene glycol. These constitute the major chunk of your drinks whether your drink is homemade or not. 

The only concerning issue with these compounds is their ability to produce toxic metabolites in your body. These compounds individually are not toxic however when they are metabolized by an enzyme in your liver known as Alcohol Dehydrogenase, they end up giving rise to multiple toxic intermediate or end products. 

If there is a huge buildup of these toxic metabolites at a given time, it’s only a recipe for disaster. Quite possibly, Alcohol Poisoning can occur, which as we know may pave the way to devastating consequences.

What are Wet Brain Syndrome and Treatment options

To combat this poisoning, antidotes have been devised. These have been used conventionally for the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning. The predominant antidotes recognized are Ethanol and Fomepizole.

Among the antidotes mentioned above ethanol has been extensively used for the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning. It acts by decreasing the concentration of toxic metabolites by actively competing for the active site of Alcohol Dehydrogenase. It has proved to be an effective mode of treatment however until recently, its efficiency has been overpowered by its adverse effects as opposed to its newly developed counterpart, Fomepizole.

Fomepizole has largely replaced the traditional ethanol in the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning. This is because it leads to much fewer adverse effects comparatively, is easier to administer clinically, and may also eliminate the need for hemodialysis in some patients if not all. It works by directly inhibiting the key enzyme, Alcohol Dehydrogenase, and has proven to give promising results.

However, in some clinical settings ethanol is still being used as the primary drug for the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning. This is because Fomepizole is not necessarily present in all hospitals worldwide. One of the reasons behind its unavailability may be an expensive cost.

Myths regarding the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning are just about everywhere. At every gathering, there is this one person who comes up with the newest and fastest trick to overcome Alcohol Intoxication. Everyone has heard it, but to your surprise, all these tips and tricks have no scientific backing. These are all myths that have no significance in the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning. 

It’s highly important to know what not to do contrary to what you might have mostly heard and make things worse for yourself in case you suffer from acute Alcohol Poisoning. You must permanently clear your head of the following myths regarding the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning!

Sleeping it off

Do not try to sleep off your Alcohol Poisoning. It may lead to unimaginable damage. Meaning, a sleep-off can quite literally land you directly in a coma!

Excess Caffeine Intake 

Do not try to overdose yourself by gulping down coffee pots because the caffeine in no way alleviates the symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning. It only exacerbates your condition towards more severity. Excess caffeine intake during Alcohol poisoning can worsen your dehydration. Thus there goes another myth about treating alcohol poisoning down the drain!

Taking Cold Showers

Taking Cold Showers while going through Alcohol Poisoning is probably the worst advice you can give to someone else or follow yourself. This is because cold showers do not help you in treating Alcohol Poisoning but make the situation even more horrendous!

This is because, during Alcohol Poisoning, your body becomes hypothermic. This means essentially all the heat leaves your body and you become excessively cold and clammy. If you provide additional cold to your body at this stage, your body might be incapable of tolerating it and you may end up losing your consciousness.

There are grave consequences of delaying the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning. This is because, during Alcohol Poisoning, an enormous amount of Alcohol is present in your blood circulation. With each second that passes by, it causes irreversible injury to some of your major organs. This includes your brain, liver, kidneys, and your pumping hero, the heart.

Alcohol Poisoning causes damage to your neurons due to which the neuronal signaling mechanism of your body is impaired. This means your essential functions astray from the equilibrium designed for a healthy functioning adult. This in the long run can lead to permanent changes leading up to significant morbidities. 

However, as frightening it is already, this is usually not the most dreaded outcome. This is because even a worse complication exists than irreparable damage. This is the fear of death. Yes, you read it correctly! If you delay the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning, you may wound up dead. And luckily if you are among the blessed ones, you still may develop lifelong complications by putting off the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning.

Some serious complications of postponing the treatment of Alcohol Poisoning are:

  • Permanent Brain Damage
  • Kidney Failure
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Myocardium Hypertrophy
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Coma 
  • Death

Treatments for Alcohol Poisoning are only beneficial when you have the willpower to fight through it! Alcohol Poisoning is not only a nerve-wracking experience for the one who suffers from it but also for the dear ones who constantly surround you. There is always a sword hanging above the heads owing to its chances of mortality. It is indeed a critical medical condition and requires professional treatment. Prompt treatment of Alcohol Poisoning can help save multiple lives.