What is a dry drunk

Alcohol poisoning

Brief overview

  • What to do in case of alcohol poisoning Affected people who are conscious: make them drink plenty of water, lie down soft and stable, warm, check breathing regularly. Unconscious patients: place them on their side, warm them, call an emergency doctor.
  • Alcohol Poisoning Risks: Chilling, organ damage / failure, respiratory and / or cardiovascular arrest
  • What does the doctor? Depending on the severity of the alcohol intoxication, give fluids by infusion, monitor vital functions (heartbeat, breathing, etc.), dialysis or ventilation if necessary


  • In small amounts, alcohol only has a selective effect on the regions of the brain that control our emotions. In higher doses, however, it paralyzes the entire central nervous system.
  • In addition to drinkable alcohol (ethanol), many alcoholic beverages also contain “fusel alcohols” such as isopropanol and methanol. In higher doses they can be harmful to health and increase the intoxicating effect.

Alcohol poisoning: symptoms

There are smooth transitions between a slight swipe and a solid alcohol intoxication. The symptoms that occur change with increasing alcohol consumption - faster in some people, more slowly in others (see below: Causes and Risk Factors):

A slight intoxication with alcohol ("Schwips") feels at least often pleasant at first at. The head is light, you feel relaxed, a warm feeling spreads in the body.

If you keep drinking, kick Changes in character and behavior on: Some affected people become euphoric, others sad, others again aggressive or very clingy. One increasingly slurred pronunciation (slurping) comes in addition. Also, the drunk is increasing unsteady on his feet: Standing and walking (staggering!) No longer work so well because the sense of balance is impaired.

Orientation problems as well as a decreased responsiveness also accompany the increasing alcohol intoxication. Also nausea soon comes up to Vomit.

If alcohol poisoning continues, symptoms such as Disorders of thinking, perception and consciousness on. For example, will Cold no longer perceived, and the drunk is hardly accessible. After all, he can unconscious become and even ins coma falling (alcoholic coma). Then it can be Apnea come! But there is also a danger to life because of severe alcohol intoxication Protective reflexes fail like the cough reflex. Then vomit can get into the airways - there is a risk of suffocation!

In the event of severe alcohol poisoning, this can finally be entire cardiovascular system collapse. Without quick help, alcohol poisoning then leads to death.

It is not only bad during the intoxication, but mostly afterwards as well. For example, after alcohol poisoning, symptoms may include headache, nausea, and a general feeling of weakness.

Stages of alcohol intoxication

Doctors differentiate between the following stages of alcohol intoxication:

  • Excitation stage (1 - 2 per thousand in the blood): low levels of drunkenness, slight gait disturbance, feeling of relaxation, carelessness and disinhibition, talkativeness, overestimation of oneself, imprecise reactions etc.
  • Stage of hypnosis (2 - 2.5 per mille): The drunk tends to sleep, but can still be woken up. In addition, severe balance disorders when walking, slowed perception, slowed thinking, clear and often aggressive mood, etc.
  • Stage of anesthesia (2.5 - 4 per thousand): deep unconsciousness, reflexes fail, reduced sensitivity to pain, muscle relaxation, shock, etc.
  • Asphyxia stage (> 4 per thousand in the blood): Circulatory and / or respiratory disorders, rapid cooling off in the cold (risk of frostbite), possible death.

Alcohol poisoning: what to do?

There are no home remedies or an antidote to alcohol or alcohol intoxication at all. Fresh air, a cold shower or a painful stimulus (e.g. a juicy slap in the face) can make the person concerned appear more alert again for a short time. However, such measures have no influence on the effect of the alcohol.

If you suspect or see signs of alcohol intoxication, you should be the first to come instead Check awareness: Talk to the person concerned or shake them gently. Also check to see if the person concerned has a head injury that may have caused the symptoms.

The next steps in first aid for alcohol poisoning depend on whether the person is conscious or not:

Conscious Drunk:

  • Stop drinking alcohol: Make sure that the drunk does not drink any more alcohol.
  • Vomit: Vomiting (including deliberately induced vomiting) removes residual amounts of alcohol from the stomach.
  • Much water: If the person can hold on to fluids, give them plenty of water to drink.
  • Rest and sleep: Sleeping off the intoxication usually brings drunks back (slowly) on their feet. Cover it with a cover to prevent it from cooling down.

In the case of mild alcohol poisoning, "treatment" at home is possible. In most cases, the intoxication can be "slept off" without medical assistance. Nevertheless, you should not leave the person affected alone for the duration of the symptoms of poisoning.

Unconscious drunk man:

  • Stable side position: If someone with severe alcohol intoxication is unconscious, you should immediately get them into a stable position on their side with their head stretched. This prevents vomit from getting into the windpipe.
  • To warm: Alcohol practically overrides the control mechanism for maintaining core body temperature. Therefore, keep the unconscious person warm (e.g. with a blanket).
  • Call an ambulance: Alert the ambulance and stay with the drunk until he arrives.
  • If necessary, resuscitation: Until the rescue service arrives, check regularly whether the unconscious person is still breathing. If breathing stops, you must start resuscitation immediately!

If drunk people behave aggressively or self-harming, you should call the police without hesitation!

Alcohol poisoning: causes and risk factors

The extent of alcohol intoxication does not always correlate with the amount of alcohol consumed. The severity of the symptoms of alcohol intoxication and their duration depend on the one hand on the physical condition of the person affected at the time of alcohol consumption (fluid and food intake in the previous hours, rest, underlying illnesses, etc.). On the other hand, it plays a role what physique the person concerned has (e.g. very tall, athletic, thin), how old he is and how used to drinking alcohol.

People who consume alcohol often show fewer symptoms than those who hardly or rarely drink alcohol. Lightweight people (such as children and teenagers) are more prone to alcohol poisoning. People with brain damage (due to illness, for example) also have an increased risk of alcohol poisoning after even very small amounts of alcohol.

What happens in the body

The liver breaks down the alcohol in the blood. However, their mining capacities are limited. If they are exceeded, ethanol, lint, but also toxic breakdown products accumulate in the blood. Ethanol changes the structure of nerve cells so that they no longer function properly or destroy themselves. The typical symptoms of drunkenness - up to alcohol poisoning - occur.

Danger from hard liquor and heavy drinking

Alcohol poisoning can occur particularly easily if someone drinks hard liquor (such as vodka). Even with a relatively small number of glasses, high amounts of alcohol come together. For comparison: a bottle of vodka (750 ml) contains as much pure alcohol as six liters of beer.

“Binge drinking”, that is, the consumption of large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time, is also dangerous. Alcohol poisoning can quickly occur, especially when binge drinking with hard liquor. The liver then has to deal with a large dose of alcohol all at once. The first slight signs of alcohol poisoning are usually absent. Instead, severe poisoning occurs suddenly and immediately.

Alcohol poisoning: examinations and diagnosis

First the doctor tries in a short one conversation Obtaining important background information (anamnesis). If you can no longer talk properly to the drunk, the doctor will turn to other people present (relatives, friends, etc.).

Then one closes physical examination at. This allows the doctor to assess the severity of alcohol poisoning.

Then he measures the Blood sugar level of the person concerned. Symptoms similar to those of alcohol intoxication can occur, especially in diabetics whose blood sugar level is too low.

Blood work and drug screening

In the hospital, the doctors also measure the alcohol concentration in the blood of the drunkard. In chronic alcoholics in particular, you must also determine additional blood values, as concomitant diseases can lead to complications.

Since the affected person could knowingly or unknowingly also have taken other drugs, the doctor also carries out a so-called “drug screening”. For therapy, it is important to know whether other substances have caused the poisoning or whether the symptoms have increased.

What the doctor should also consider: In some cases, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome are similar to those of alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol poisoning: treatment by the doctor

In the case of alcohol intoxication, the doctor tries to alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications. In addition, the patient must not have any possibility of endangering himself. In individual cases, the treatment is based on the type and extent of the symptoms of alcohol intoxication.

First of all, the person concerned receives fluid through a venous access. Most of the time, the drunkard is allowed to “sleep in” under observation - with continuous monitoring of cardiac function, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and blood sugar. Severe alcohol poisoning requires monitoring in an intensive care unit. If kidney failure is imminent, dialysis is usually necessary; if breathing has stopped, ventilation is necessary.

If the drunk is very excited or aggressive, the doctor will usually give you a calming drug. In exceptional cases, those affected are restrained for their own protection.

Alcohol poisoning with toxic alcohols such as methanol or isopropanol must usually be treated with medication.

Alcohol poisoning: consequences

As a rule, mild alcohol poisoning heals without any consequences. However, repeated or severe alcohol intoxication can damage the brain, liver and kidneys. In particularly severe cases, alcohol poisoning is fatal.

Pregnant women should definitely refrain from any alcohol (even in small amounts), as it can profoundly disrupt the development of the child.

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