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Alcohol Poisoning Signs and Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average number of people dying from alcohol poisoning each day is six, and seventy-six percent of all alcohol poisoning deaths are adult males 35 to 64. The remaining twenty-four percent include women and college students. If you have participated in binge drinking or who have friends who do, you need to know alcohol poisoning signs and symptoms.

3 Minute Read | Published Aug 14 2023 | Updated Feb 27 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Wayne P. Brown
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Wayne P. Brown
Reviewed by

Know These Critical Alcohol Poisoning Signs

Alcohol Poisoning Signs

There are alcohol poisoning signs you should know, which include the following:

  • Mental Confusion – The person may display confusion about where he or she is and why.
  • Unresponsive – You may not be able to rouse the person.
  • Gasping – Poisoning causes gasping for air and erratic breathing.
  • Snoring – The person may snore loudly and no reaction if you try to wake him or her.
  • Vomiting – Vomiting can be dangerous as the person can choke.
  • Hypothermia – Alcohol poisoning lowers the body temperature.
  • Unconscious – You will not be able to wake the person.
  • Blue Tinge to Skin – Bluish skin indicates lack of oxygen.

If someone displays any of these alcohol poisoning signs, call 911 immediately. Without medical intervention the person can die. Do not do any of the following after calling 911:

  • Do not give coffee as it causes further dehydration.
  • Do not feed as he or she can choke.
  • Do not let the person take any medicine as it may make the poisoning worse.
  • Do not make him or her vomit as it can cause serious choking.
  • Do not give him or her a cold shower as it increases hypothermia.
  • Do not allow him or her to sleep it off as it can get worse.
  • Do not leave the person alone while waiting for the ambulance.

Alcohol Poisoning Death Stories

On a frigid winter night during a snow storm, a Cornell University police officer found a confused young man sitting shirtless on a rock and dangling his feet in the water of a creek. He told the officer he was calling a friend to come and pick him up. This young man was fortunate he did not become one of the alcohol poisoning death stories that turn up on the news far too frequently. At Michigan State, only days after arriving, 19-year old Jiaya Dai died of alcohol poisoning. One month after the death of Dai, another 19-year old, Caitlyn Kovacs died of alcohol poisoning at Rutgers University. Caitlyn was at a sorority party when friends realized, too late, that something was wrong and took her to a hospital. These alcohol poisoning death stories are just a fraction of the tragedies that have occurred at colleges.

Fraternity Hazing Deaths

At Penn State, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza was forced to drink large amounts of alcohol as part of a hazing ritual. For over 12 hours he was in obvious distress and no one got help for him even when he fell head first into the door of the fraternity house leaving him unconscious. When he was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late. Timothy Piazza became one of the too frequent fraternity hazing deaths, and 18 fraternity brothers are facing serious charges in connection with his death. 2017 was a tragic year for fraternity hazing deaths. In addition to Timothy Piazza, three more students were dead before Thanksgiving. The families of Maxwell Gruver (18) Louisiana State, Andrew Coffey (20) Florida State, and Matthew Ellis (20) Texas State, all lost their sons to fraternity hazing deaths.

If you have a child in college and are concerned they are binge drinking or participating in other risky drinking behaviors, contact Better Addiction Care at (800) 429-7690. Don’t delay getting help for your child before they become a victim of alcohol poisoning or addiction, which can result in tragic consequences.


bullet National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
"Harmful and Underage College Drinking"
Retrieved on April 04, 2018
bullet Recovered
"Alcohol, Drugs and Young People"
Retrieved on April 04, 2018
bullet Cosmopolitan
"Why Is Binge Drinking Still So Prevalent on College Campuses?"
Retrieved on April 04, 2018
bullet Forbes
"A Sober Assessment of High-Risk Drinking on College Campuses"
Retrieved on April 04, 2018

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