For most people alcohol represents the opportunity to relax and unwind while others use alcohol to dull their pain and often tend to overindulge. The number of people with alcohol addiction problems seems to be on the rise and problems associated with alcohol abuse also seem to be increasing.
Alcohol intoxication puts people at risk of disease and injury. Alcohol can damage your organs – brain, liver, heart, kidneys, and lungs and make you more likely to act violently and aggressively. You may break the law, or harm yourself and others. Risky sexual behaviour could lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) some life threatening. Alcohol intoxication and poisoning can put you into a coma and cause other dangerous situations.
In cases of extreme intoxication, alcohol poisoning can result. The intoxicated person needs to seek medical care if they experience: sudden difficulty breathing or chest pain, a seizure, extreme sadness and depression to harm yourself or others, hallucinations, inability to stop vomiting.
Once you seek medical care what are the procedures they are likely to follow?
The purpose of responsible service of alcohol is to prevent drinking from reaching this stage of intoxication. However there are instances where people will drink to an extent that their body cannot handle and in this case they need to seek medical care.
Some of the treatments doctors will recommend are medicines, such as sedatives to calm or relax an intoxicated person or anti-nausea medication to calm the stomach and reduce vomiting often associated with intoxication. Doctors may also recommend glucose to increase blood sugar levels or Vitamin B1 if levels in the body are lowered due to the alcohol intake.
Some intoxicated people may require breathing support. This may be in the form of oxygen or a ventilator. If blood oxygen levels are lower than normal, doctors may prescribe oxygen through a mask.
A ventilator may be used in extreme cases to convey oxygen and “breath for the person” This is an intrusive method and these people have endangered themselves to a serious extent and should consider rehab or therapy once they are physically better. . An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your airway through your mouth or nose. Sometimes a tube is put into an incision in the front of your neck. The ET tube is attached to the ventilator.
How to help an Intoxicated Person
Some cases of intoxication may not be as serious and may be treatable at home. In this case a person can be cared for by a family member or friend at home. This should start by removing the person from the source of the alcohol, the bar or party.
Secondly a safe environment should be provided that doesn’t make it easy for the person to injure themselves or other. For example prevent falls, keep away from dangerous machines and objects, prevent the person from driving vehicles.
Determine from the person if ethanol has been ingested and whether it has been combined with any medication such as illegal drugs or non-ethanol alcohols or even prescription drugs.
Determine if the person can be awakened with a tug on the shoulder. Also ensure that the person’s condition is not due to an underlying medical cause or injury. Ask the person about other conditions and look for any evidence of a head injury or other trauma.
Remember that there is no medication that can speed up the sobering process. Caffeine and cold showers have a minimal and very temporary effect. Other home remedies that people often concoct may also have a temporary effect but a minimal one.
It is also important to remember that while it is normal to vomit when intoxicated as the body tries to expel what it interprets as “poison” , continuous vomiting for extended periods of time can be dangerous and indicative of an underlying problem, so medical attention should be sought. To learn more about the alcohol and its effects on drinkers complete our convenient Online RSA course. Visit www.rsaonline.com to learn more or to register.
Posted by Peter Cutforth