In 2020, the national average of alcoholic beverages consumed in the U.S. was 17 drinks per week. People love celebrating with alcohol, whether it's a special occasion, event, or sometimes just after a long work week. There is a fine line between relaxing and having a good time and going overboard, potentially putting your health (or life) at risk with alcohol poisoning. That is why it is crucial to be aware of the dangers and take safety precautions when drinking alcohol. Alcohol poisoning (A.P.) occurs when an extensive amount of alcohol is in our bloodstream, so much so that areas of our brain begin to shut down, including our breathing, heart rate, and temperature control.
What Happens when A.P. Occurs?
As the alcohol goes into our bloodstream and takes over our body, we experience symptoms like mental confusion, clammy skin, slowed heart rate, low body temperature, vomiting, and seizures. It can also cause difficulty breathing and remaining conscious, creating a dull response. A dull response or a ‘no gag reflex’ occurs while unconscious and can result in the person choking on their vomit and dying of asphyxiation. When our brain begins to shut down, it affects all control in our body. “Drinking too much too quickly can lead to significant impairments in motor coordination, decision-making, impulse control, and other functions, increasing the risk of harm.”
Fraternity Hazings Turn Deadly
Reports say that every day, six people die from alcohol poisoning alone, amounting to 2,190 every year. Of these 2,190, 113 are between the ages of 15 and 24. While alcohol poisoning may occur more often in middle-aged white males, it is still making its way through young adults and teens who are inexperienced at drinking alcohol in a safe manner. Stone Foltz, 20, died March 7, 2021, after an alleged fraternity hazing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Recruits were instructed not to leave until they finished a handle of alcohol (approx. 40 shots). Foltz, talking to his mother on the phone that evening, stated, “It's just part of the ritual. I have to, but I don't want to.” Later that night, he was found unresponsive, taken to the hospital, and put on life support. Four days later, he was declared brain dead. Unfortunately, this is not the only case of fraternity hazing seen recently. On February 27th, 2021, Adam Oakes,19, died from an alleged fraternity hazing incident at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Sam Martinez, 19, died of alcohol poisoning in November of 2019 at Washington State University from the same causes. These tragic events could have been avoided.
How can I Prevent this Situation?
There are countless stories like the ones above, but there are numerous ways to avoid these types of situations.
- Never mix alcohol and medications and/or drugs
Any drugs (even over-the-counter) mixed with alcohol can increase one's risk for overdose. Sleep aids or any sedatives-hypnotics suppress areas in the brain vital for functioning, just as alcohol does. When the two are combined, it can cause an overdose, even with only a moderate amount of alcohol.
2. Know your limit
Whenever drinking, be cautious of how your body responds to one drink prior to having another. Everyone reacts differently. Go slowly, and enjoy your beverage, taking note of how you feel. It’s critical to understand the point at which you feel things going from enjoyable to uncomfortable. Listen to your body, and keep your personal limits in check.
3. Eat food and stay hydrated
A good meal and staying hydrated with water can make a huge difference in one's reaction to alcohol. Know when to protect yourself before shutting down. Eat foods with high protein, vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates. Drinking a few glasses of water before going out and one in between each alcoholic drink will keep you hydrated and less hungover in the morning. If water is hard to drink (as it is for so many others), Drinklyte is perfect for both rehydrating (IV-effective) and avoiding a hangover at the same time.
4. If you see something, say something!
Drinking can get out of hand in the blink of an eye. Whether we have personally done the damage ourselves or have that one friend who always seems to get into trouble, things happen quickly under the influence. While perception changes under the influence, there are too many stories like the above. Check on friends, strangers, or whoever else looks like they need help because it could potentially be saving their life. Call 911 in case of an emergency - always seek help if you feel someone is in danger.
While it may be challenging at the time (especially if one’s under the influence), it’s crucial to know the signs, symptoms, and what to do in these situations. Since the effects of alcohol can change based on height, weight, age, tolerance, medications, and food consumed, it will be different for others. On top of that, Not everyone will drink in moderation, but don't try to keep up with others based on the number of shots or drinks they had, especially with the pressure to do so. Even the smallest of actions could result in deadly consequences. And rule #1- NEVER, ever drink and drive.
At DrinkLyte, we believe that there is a balance between having fun and being healthy. That means enjoying a drink but also always being safe. Drink happy, and drink responsibly!
Author : Jennifer Dutton, Blog Writer, DrinkLyte Co. "Helping Grow CPG Brands Beyond Their Potential"