Symptoms of alcohol poisoning 

The level of alcohol in a person’s blood can continue to rise for up to 30-40 minutes after their last drink. This can cause their symptoms to suddenly worsen.

It's important to be aware of the signs of alcohol poisoning.

Signs of alcohol poisoning

Signs a person may have alcohol poisoning include:

  • confusion
  • severely slurred speech
  • loss of co-ordination
  • vomiting
  • irregular or slow breathing
  • hypothermia (pale or blue-tinged skin caused by low body temperature)
  • stupor (being conscious but unresponsive)
  • passing out and being unconscious

If a person is poisoned by alcohol they could:

  • choke on their vomit
  • stop breathing
  • have a heart attack
  • inhale vomit, leading to fatal lung damage
  • become severely dehydrated, which can cause permanent brain damage in extreme cases
  • develop more severe hypothermia
  • have seizures (fits) as a result of lowered blood sugar levels

Repeated vomiting and retching can lead to the vomiting of blood as a result of a torn blood vessel (Mallory-Weiss tear) at the junction of the stomach and gullet. 

In the most severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma, brain damage and death.

Other related risks

Drinking too much alcohol can affect a person’s judgement and put them in situations where their health and safety are at risk. For example, they may:

  • have an accident or get injured
  • become involved in violent or antisocial behaviour
  • have unsafe sex, which can lead to an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • lose personal possessions

Page last reviewed: 23/06/2014

Next review due: 23/06/2016