Person with alcohol poisoning lay in hospital bed

People drink for many reasons. To celebrate good times, to socialise with friends, to self-medicate for mental health reasons. Drinking moderately is a part of many peoples’ lives but when moderation turns into binging, that is where the danger lies.

One of the biggest risks of drinking is alcohol poisoning. This occurs when someone drinks a huge amount of alcohol in a short amount of time and can have disastrous consequences. If you are concerned about own drinking or someone else’s, it is important to be able to recognise alcohol poisoning symptoms, what to do if it occurs, and how long do alcohol poisoning effects last.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

There are many symptoms of alcohol poisoning that you can be on the lookout for. If someone passes out during a drinking session, this is a clear indication of an alcohol overdose. If awake, a person may suffer from confusion, vomiting, low body temperature, clammy skin and seizures.

Alcohol overdose effects can strike quickly and may take less alcohol than you expect. This is because alcohol affects people differently and the severity of symptoms can depend on several factors. Age, speed of drinking, alcohol tolerance, food eaten before drinking and medications taken will all impact the risk of alcohol poisoning.

It’s important to spot the signs early as alcohol poisoning can be fatal if not treated. Chronic health issues can arise from excessive drinking or a person may endanger themselves by driving whilst suffering from alcohol poisoning or put themselves in a dangerous situation.

Alcohol poisoning is a clear sign of problematic drinking and someone who suffers from it could also have an alcohol addiction. It’s important to know the signs so you and others can act quickly.

What to do if You Have Alcohol Poisoning?

If you are with someone you suspect of suffering from alcohol poisoning then there are steps you can take to avoid the situation worsening.


Call 999 – Your first step should be to contact medical professionals. They are experts at dealing with this and the person may need professional treatment to get better.

Keep Warm – The person’s body temperature is likely to be low so warming them up with a jacket or coat is vital.

Sit Up or Recovery Position – If they are conscious, sit them up. If they have then put them in the recovery position so they do not choke on their vomit if they are sick.

Stay With Them – Don’t leave the person’s side. They may slip into unconsciousness or stop breathing. You must try and keep them awake and wait until an ambulance arrives.


People suffering from alcohol poisoning shouldn’t be given drinks with caffeine, only water and shouldn’t be put in a cold shower or made to be sick.

Alcohol Poisoning Treatment

Once the ambulance arrives, the person will be taken to the hospital. Alcohol poisoning treatment at the hospital usually consists of being monitored and likely given fluids via an IV bag. They may also receive help breathing if that is a concern until the effects of the alcohol have worn off.

How Long Do Alcohol Poisoning Effects Last For?

Your main concerns will be how long does alcohol poisoning last and the timeline for it. This is not an exact science as the factors that influence if alcohol poisoning is likely to occur also affect how long it may last.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is what tips the balance in your body. Alcohol poisoning will begin when the BAC in your body is too much for your body to deal with. Once your BAC gets to between 0.31 – 0.45% then you are at serious risk of alcohol poisoning.

After that, the severe effects may last for several hours and you can continue to feel the consequences of your drinking for up to 48 hours afterwards.

As stated above, the short-term effects revolve around you stopping breathing, heart failure and having a seizure – besides putting yourself in danger by driving or engaging in risky behaviour. In the long term, alcohol poisoning can lead to brain damage, which may result in the failure of other organs. You could develop an alcohol dependence which can have long-lasting consequences.

Immediately, complications such as choking, severe loss of fluids that lead to low blood pressure and hypothermia can turn a person passing out from alcohol into a life-altering incident.

How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning

No one wants to get to the stage where they need to receive alcohol poisoning treatment or attend an alcohol rehab. There are simple things you can do to prevent alcohol poisoning altogether.


Alcohol poisoning won’t happen if you stay on top of how much you drink. This means you should stay away from drinking games which encourage drinking excessively in a short amount of time.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water between drinks will keep you hydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic – it makes you want to go to the toilet. Severe cases of dehydration can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Eat Before

Drinking with a belly full of food means that the alcohol stays in your stomach longer and offsets the impact that the drinks will have on you.

Don’t Mix Drugs and Drink

Besides illegal drugs, drinking whilst on prescribed medication can have unknown effects on your body. Any type of drug will increase the risk of alcohol poisoning occurring.

Recovery and Support for Alcohol Poisoning

An alcohol overdose may point to a larger problem with the substance. If this is the case then recovery from alcohol poisoning may not be something that happens overnight. You may need to go into a recovery programme and book yourself into rehab for professional treatment.

In a professional rehab setting you will gain access to treatments and alcohol poisoning support you couldn’t get on your own. Treatments such as alcohol detox can be the first step to achieving long-term recovery and take away the risk of alcohol poisoning happening again.

Get Help Today

Alcohol poisoning is a serious result of drinking heavily. Being aware of alcohol poisoning symptoms and knowing the next steps are so important for yourself or someone you know suffering from addiction.

Here at Step One Recovery, we offer alcohol poisoning support and provide treatment for those who need it. Call now at +44 (0) 800 012 6006 for more information.