What is alcohol intoxication?

Acute alcohol intoxication in your teen: Overview

Your teen has had treatment to help their body get rid of alcohol. Too much alcohol upsets the body's fluid balance, so your doctor may have given your teen fluids and vitamins.

For some people, drinking too much alcohol is a one-time event. For others, it is a long-term problem. In either case, it is serious and can be life-threatening.

How do you know if an intoxicated person needs help?

Signs that an intoxicated person might need medical attention include:

  • An injury. An intoxicated person may not feel pain normally. So they may not be aware of an injury or realize how serious it may be. It is not uncommon for an intoxicated person to vomit once. But an intoxicated person who is confused or not acting normally and vomits more than once may have a more serious problem, such as a head injury.
  • Signs of alcohol poisoning. These include vomiting, confusion, slow or irregular breathing, and the inability to be awakened.

How can you care for your teen after acute alcohol intoxication?

  • Be safe with medicines. Have your teen take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your teen is having a problem with a medicine.
  • If your teen has been given medicine to prevent nausea, be sure your teen takes it exactly as prescribed.
  • Know that your teen could have some symptoms of a hangover in the next few days.
  • Have your teen drink plenty of liquids in the next few days.
  • Get help for your teen. Counseling and support groups can help your teen stop using alcohol. Family counseling is a good idea too.

Helping a person who is intoxicated

Most people can be cared for at home by family or friends when they are intoxicated. If you think that the intoxicated person's condition is getting worse and you are concerned that you can't provide a safe environment, seek medical help.

Here are some ways to help a person who is intoxicated.

  • Stop the person from taking more alcohol or drugs.

    You may have to remove the person from a bar or party. If the person is at home, remove the alcohol or drugs from the house.

  • Stay with the person.

    Or have someone else stay with the person until that person's condition has improved.

  • Provide a safe place for the person to rest.

    Don't let the person drive a vehicle or operate machinery. Take steps to prevent falls.

  • Find out what the person has used.

    Find out if the person has used alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription or nonprescription medicines.

    The use of alcohol with medicines or illegal drugs may increase the intoxicating effects each has on the body. Call 911 for help if you are concerned about any drugs that the person has taken.

  • Find out if the person has other health problems.

    Certain health problems could affect the person's condition. For example, diabetes or a seizure disorder could make the person seem to be intoxicated.

Acute alcohol intoxication in your teen: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your teen may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your teen passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your teen has trouble breathing.
  • Your teen feels confused or cannot think clearly.
  • Your teen is seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there.
  • Your teen makes threats or attempts to hurt themself.
  • Your teen has a seizure.
  • Your teen vomits blood or what looks like coffee grounds.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your teen can't stop vomiting.
  • Your teen has symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than usual.
  • Your teen has new or worse symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as:
    • Trembling, restlessness, or sweating.
    • Anxiety or feeling tense and edgy.
    • Headache or fast or irregular heartbeats.

Watch closely for changes in your teen's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your teen does not get better as expected.
  • Your teen needs help to stop drinking.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.