What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

One of the scariest things as a spouse is seeing your significant other vomiting and having a seizure while several empty bottles of liquor sit on the table. It can be even scarier when you’re not sure what to do or how to help him. He could be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning is more common than you may think. In fact, Massachusetts had 11.9 deaths from alcohol poisoning per million people according to the Center for Disease Control, putting it in the top quarter of all states.

If this is something that happens frequently, he also might have alcohol use disorder. Either way, we are here to help. We will discuss alcohol poisoning, the dangers of it, and how to get treatment if your husband has alcohol use disorder.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning, also called alcohol overdose, happens when a person drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short time frame. There are several causes of alcohol poisoning. While this can happen when people drink products that contain alcohol, such as isopropyl, the most common cause of alcohol poisoning tends to be from excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages in one period of time, or binge drinking.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning may include:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Passing out (unconsciousness) and can’t be awakened

What qualifies as too much alcohol can vary from person to person. For the average adult male, five or more drinks in a short period of time is considered “too much,” but it also depends on the potency of the alcohol in a beverage. For example, beer has a lower percentage of alcohol (5%) than something like vodka (40%). It is more likely that someone will get alcohol poisoning quicker by drinking beverages with a higher percentage of alcohol.

There are other risk factors contributing to alcohol poisoning as well. For example, someone’s overall health can contribute, as well as their size and weight. Someone who weighs 150 pounds will be affected by alcohol differently than someone who weighs 200 pounds, even if they both drink the same amount of alcohol.

Whether you have eaten or not also affects how quickly alcohol goes through your body. If you haven’t eaten much, alcohol will mess with your digestive system much quicker than drinking on a full stomach or eating while drinking.

How Do I Stop Him From Poisoning Himself?

Prevention of alcohol poisoning is important to talk about with your spouse. That said, the prevention is mainly up to your husband if he wants to take the advice. Ways for him to prevent alcohol poisoning can be by abstaining (not drinking) or drinking in moderation. This would be up to two drinks per day, slowly drinking them, as well as drinking with some food in his system.

Aftercare can also be very helpful. Meeting with a doctor or a counselor can help with discussing reasons for binge drinking and preventive measures. Only your husband can prevent his own alcohol overdose, but you can motivate him and give these options to prevent possible overdosing.

What Do I Do If I Think He Has Alcohol Poisoning Right Now?

Alcohol poisoning is an emergency. If someone is currently suffering from alcohol poisoning, immediately dial 911.

Stay calm. This is easier said than done, but you and your husband will benefit from you being as calm as possible while the operator tells you how to keep him safe. Be sure to be specific with information about what he drank, how much he drank, and how quickly he drank it, if that is information you know.

If he is conscious and vomiting, make sure to keep him upright or turn him on his side if he is lying down. Make sure to keep him awake as well. If your husband loses consciousness, do not leave him alone. He could possibly start choking on his own vomit.

While alcohol poisoning may be difficult to identify, if you believe your husband is suffering from alcohol poisoning, do not hesitate to get help as soon as possible. The outcome of getting help while your husband is not suffering from alcohol poisoning is much better than the outcome of not getting help when he is.

Does This Mean He Has Alcohol Use Disorder?

Someone who gets alcohol poisoning does not necessarily have alcohol use disorder (AUD). Someone simply could have not understood how much alcohol was in a certain beverage and accidentally overdosed.

That said, it is more likely for someone with AUD to binge drink, and therefore more likely that someone with AUD will suffer from alcohol poisoning more frequently. If you fear your husband is suffering from AUD, consider discussing treatment.

This Is Hurting Me – How Do I Convince Him to Get Treatment?

We understand. It is difficult to see your husband hurting, and it takes a toll on you and your marriage as well. You also worry the kids will see this, and about what will happen in your marriage.

You want your husband to go to treatment to work on his addiction so he can start healing and you can start repairing what feels broken. If your husband does not want to go to alcohol rehab, consult East Coast Recovery to discuss ways to motivate him to start treatment.

One way of motivating is having a brief motivational interview with a professional therapist. Motivational interviewing is a method that assesses how “ready” someone is for change and is focused on guiding the patient to change as opposed to telling the patient to change. While extrinsic (outer) motivation exists, intrinsic (inner) motivation has proven to get someone to start their journey to recovery.

Motivational interviewing fosters this motivation by building rapport with the person and establishing trust with that person. After that trust is gained, the therapist tends to ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or a “no.”

While making the patient feel like they are heard, they also encourage change talk. Change talk is used when the patient starts saying things that show their motivation for changing. Change talk is the goal of motivational interviewing as it shows the patient is ready to make a change and start treatment for alcohol use disorder.

Treatment for AUD at East Coast Recovery

East Coast Recovery offers a variety of treatments for alcohol use disorder. We believe in the community principles of 12-step programs, but we offer much more than that. We offer family therapy, outpatient services, partial hospitalization, and aftercare programs. Every person is different, so everyone might not respond to the same treatment style.

Family Therapy

Treatment is also beneficial for the family. Family therapy is a great way for you to talk to your husband and air out all of your grievances with him. This can also help your husband talk about what he needs from you to help him with his treatment.

Family therapy can help you understand your partner through their addiction and can help him understand your expectations and needs. Family therapy is typically short-term but has been proven to be very effective.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization is a type of treatment plan that allows the patient to continue living at home while attending the treatment facility up to 7 days a week. Thorough treatment is still provided, and PHP is great for patients who weren’t as successful with outpatient care.

East Coast Recovery’s partial hospitalization program is available to all patients ages 18 and up. This can help patients who may be triggered at home to get away from distractions when they need to in order to focus on recovery. Patients also have continual support in the form of medical staff that can help them through their addiction.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) allow patients to get help while still living their usual lives. For example, someone could go to work and then come to the center to get treatment. IOPs are great for patients who aren’t at a risk of hurting themselves or others.

IOPs do require a bit more of a commitment than standard outpatient treatment. Around 10 hours of therapy can be expected per week. While there are some online treatment options, the sessions usually take place at the treatment facility.

Patients can attend individual therapy as well as group therapy. Group therapy is great as it fosters communication skills. It also shows that the patient is not alone on this road to recovery. While most programs take 90 days, the length of treatment depends on the patient.

Aftercare Services

Aftercare is important because treatment is a continuous process that doesn’t stop after leaving the facility. Aftercare is a plan to assist a patient after their treatment program ends and help them learn coping skills.

Aftercare services can help a patient achieve their goals and regain control of their life while also preventing them from relapsing. Some of the components of aftercare can include:

  • Staying in a sober living home or community for a period of time
  • Attending 12-step programs and/or other community-based fellowship organizations
  • Being a part of East Coast Recovery Center alumni activities

Aftercare works by addressing the specific needs of the patient. One of the most effective tools for aftercare is sober living. Sober living homes are communities where people on the road to recovery can live together free of triggers. These homes provide a safe environment where patients can continue to build themselves up before going back into regular society. Sober living homes have rules they need to follow, such as having chores, a curfew, and abstinence from alcohol and substances.

Aftercare services can also help in avoiding relapse. East Coast Recovery center recommends using these steps to help you get your most successful outcome. Engaging in therapy and counseling after initial treatment will help the patient discuss the cravings and urges that may arise while they are in recovery.

Going to recovery meetings helps as well. This helps strengthen coping skills, and it’s good to be around other people with a recovery-based mindset. Building a support system will also help with maintaining sobriety, as having a strong community with other sober individuals helps with recovery and motivation.

Walk the Path With Us

East Coast Recovery is dedicated to helping patients succeed in their recovery goals. We foster a community of like-minded individuals that want to see you or your loved one shine. We are located in Cohasset, Massachusetts, just 20 minutes outside of Boston. Walk the path of recovery with us and call (617) 390-8349 to start your journey today.


What happens to your body when you have alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning means too much alcohol is in a person’s bloodstream. This means the brain is affected, and basic functions (breathing and heart rate) begin to shut down. It also affects the body by slowing down senses, such as having no gag reflex. This makes it much easier to choke on vomit. Also, in very few but serious cases, it can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

What is the meaning of alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is another term for alcohol overdose, which can happen when someone consumes so much alcohol that their body can no longer process it fast enough. Because we are constantly changing the way we look at patients who struggle with forms of addiction, we also want to change our language to reduce negative and often unfair beliefs and empower our patients.

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