What Is Involved in Alcohol Poisoning Treatment?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Isopropyl alcohol, which causes alcohol poisoning even in small amounts.
Isopropyl alcohol, which causes alcohol poisoning even in small amounts.

Alcohol poisoning treatment includes supportive care to make a patient more comfortable and measures to get alcohol out of the patient's system as quickly as possible. If a patient consumes non-drinkable alcohols, more extensive treatment is necessary, as these can severely damage internal organs. The doctor may also recommend attending a substance abuse program if there are concerns about the patient's alcohol use, as in the case of a patient coming back for repeat medical care after a recent treatment for alcohol poisoning.

An individual who drinks an excessive amount of alcohol may be at risk for alcohol poisoning.
An individual who drinks an excessive amount of alcohol may be at risk for alcohol poisoning.

One part of alcohol poisoning treatment is gastric lavage, where a doctor inserts a tube into the patient's stomach to pump out the contents. Any alcohol present in the stomach will not be metabolized. The patient also usually receives fluids, sometimes with nutrients like glucose to offset some of the effects of the alcohol poisoning. Some patients need supplemental oxygen as well.

Alcohol poisoning may lead to a visit to the emergency room.
Alcohol poisoning may lead to a visit to the emergency room.

Airway protection is a very important component of alcohol poisoning treatment. People in a severe state of intoxication may vomit and could aspirate, and also tend to have greater difficulty breathing and repositioning themselves if they experience respiratory distresses. Nurses can put the patient in a safe position and use suction tools to keep the patient's mouth clear. This will reduce the risks of developing pneumonia or other complications as a result of alcohol poisoning.

Alcholol poisoning treatment may require kidney dialysis.
Alcholol poisoning treatment may require kidney dialysis.

In the case of patients who ingest industrial alcohols not intended for human consumption, alcohol poisoning treatment may require kidney dialysis to process the toxins. Patients will need to stay in the hospital while they receive treatment. Medications to block certain toxins in the body are also available and may be beneficial for some patients. Individuals who ingest any alcohol not labeled for consumption, like isopropyl alcohol, need immediate medical attention.

The human body needs about one hour to process the alcohol content of a single drink.
The human body needs about one hour to process the alcohol content of a single drink.

After successful alcohol poisoning treatment, a doctor may interview the patient to find out more about the circumstances. If the doctor feels the patient is at risk of alcoholism or self-destructive behaviors, referrals to other treatment providers can be an important component of care. In the case of underage drinkers, meetings with parents, guardians, or people like residency advisers may also be necessary to provide ongoing support after an episode of alcohol poisoning.

Another concern with alcohol poisoning treatment is the risk that a patient may not receive medical attention because no one brings the patient to a doctor or calls for help. This is common when there are fears of reprisals like being kicked out of college or getting in trouble with parents. Providing an environment where people know they can and should call for help without worrying about punishment is important for preventing deaths due to untreated alcohol poisoning.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Isopropyl alcohol, which causes alcohol poisoning even in small amounts.
      Isopropyl alcohol, which causes alcohol poisoning even in small amounts.
    • An individual who drinks an excessive amount of alcohol may be at risk for alcohol poisoning.
      An individual who drinks an excessive amount of alcohol may be at risk for alcohol poisoning.
    • Alcohol poisoning may lead to a visit to the emergency room.
      Alcohol poisoning may lead to a visit to the emergency room.
    • Alcholol poisoning treatment may require kidney dialysis.
      Alcholol poisoning treatment may require kidney dialysis.
    • The human body needs about one hour to process the alcohol content of a single drink.
      The human body needs about one hour to process the alcohol content of a single drink.