Alcohol poisoning—a severe and potentially fatal physical reaction to an alcohol overdose—is the most serious consequence of binge drinking. When a person drinks excessive amounts of alcohol within a short period of time, the brain is deprived of oxygen. In response to the overdose of alcohol and the lack of oxygen, the brain eventually shuts down the functions that regulate heart rate and breathing.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin
- Slow or irregular breathing
If You Suspect Alcohol Poisoning
If you suspect alcohol poisoning, don’t worry that the person may be offended or embarrassed when he or she sobers up. Your decision to help may save the person’s life.
- Call 911 immediately. If you are near a hospital, take the person to the emergency room right away.
- Turn the person on his or her side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.
- Do not leave the person alone.
- Pay close attention to the person’s breathing. If it stops, administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Other Health and Social Consequences
Binge drinking can not only lead to alcohol overdose (poisoning), but also to drunk driving, accidents, poor school performance, risky sexual activity, property damage, illicit drug use, and even death.
Furthermore, studies suggest that heavy drinking in adolescence is strongly associated with heavy drinking in young adult life as well. Rather than “growing out” of binge drinking behavior, many young persons “grow into” a pattern of alcohol dependence or abuse.