Is There an Antidote for Alcohol Toxicity?
Drinking large amounts of alcohol quickly can cause respiratory depression, coma, and even death. In this case, is there an antidote for alcohol toxicity or acute alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol is a powerful depressant, slowing down all your brain functions, including those that keep you alive. While drinking prompts feelings of relaxation while reducing anxiety, these effects don’t last and require a person to keep drinking to sustain the euphoria.
When a person drinks heavily, alcohol toxicity is likely to result. This is because a person’s body can process and excrete only a fixed rate of alcohol. Your liver metabolizes the alcohol but can only break down so much at once. When more alcohol is consumed than the liver can break down, the alcohol is redirected throughout the body.
Reversing Acute Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol toxicity is always dangerous and can easily be lethal. Even when alcohol poisoning doesn’t rise to that level of harm, it can cause serious and lasting damage to a person’s vital organs if it is not urgently addressed. Fortunately, some treatments can be given at an emergency room or other medical facility that will reverse acute alcohol poisoning. According to the National Library of Medicine, metadoxine is one such medication. Metadoxine increases the speed at which a person’s body processes and excretes alcohol.
There are no over-the-counter treatments for acute alcohol poisoning, and home remedies may worsen the situation. The following traditional ways to reverse alcohol poisoning not only do not work but are also known to make a person even sicker.
- Sleeping it off. People suffering from alcohol poisoning tend to vomit and, if left alone, can choke to death. Sleep also does nothing to make alcohol less poisonous and does not increase the speed with which alcohol is passed out of a person’s system.
- Black coffee, caffeine tablets, or other stimulants. These do nothing to increase the metabolism of alcohol. So while a person may urinate more, they’re not excreting any more alcohol than they would normally.
- Cold showers. Exposure to cold water doesn’t speed up alcohol’s excretion.
Alcohol toxicity is a health emergency that must be treated by medical professionals immediately. When medical care is received, a person suffering from acute alcohol poisoning can fully recover.
Identifying the Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning
Distinguishing severe intoxication from alcohol poisoning by a person’s behaviors can be difficult. Always err on safety if you’re concerned about a person’s well-being. These are the most critical signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- Trouble staying awake
- Inability to be roused or unconsciousness
- Cold, clammy skin, which may be bluish around the lips and fingernails
- Extreme confusion and slowed or sluggish responses
- Poor coordination, inability to walk
- Problems staying conscious.
- Low body temperature
- Irregular heartbeat or erratic pulse
- Slowed breathing (10 seconds or more between inhalations)
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Seizures, choking, vomiting
How Do You Treat Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning cannot be reversed at home. The first thing to do if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning is to call 911. In a medical setting, healthcare professionals will use:
- IV fluids: Providers give intravenous (IV) fluids to treat dehydration. Certain IV fluids can also increase blood sugar levels.
- Oxygen: Providers can give oxygen using a nasal cannula (flexible tube clipped to the nose). They may put a small tube into the windpipe if a person has trouble breathing.
- Blood filtration: If kidneys cannot do the job, providers may start dialysis to filter alcohol from the blood.
- Medication. As we’ve discussed, medications like metadoxine can speed up the rate at which alcohol leaves the body.
Treatment Programs for Chronic Alcoholism
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction or alcoholism, our specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Absolute Awakenings follows an evidence-based approach to treating alcohol and substance abuse disorders. We are committed to providing long-term recovery for those struggling with addiction. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so every person that walks through our doors is provided with unique and individualized care. Call us today. Our recovery specialists are waiting to assist you or a loved one in your fight against alcoholism.
- CDC. Alcohol Poisoning Deaths. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published January 6, 2015. Accessed January 16, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/alcohol-poisoning-deaths/index.html
- Vonghia L, Leggio L, Ferrulli A, et al. Acute alcohol intoxication. Eur J Intern Med. 2008;19(8):561-567. doi:10.1016/j.ejim.2007.06.033
- Díaz Martínez MCLR, Díaz Martínez A, Villamil Salcedo V, Cruz Fuentes C. Efficacy of metadoxine in the management of acute alcohol intoxication. J Int Med Res. 2002;30(1):44-51. doi:10.1177/147323000203000107
- Dehydration: Causes & Symptoms. Cleveland Clinic. Published February 16, 2021. Accessed January 16, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9013-dehydration
- Dialysis: Types, How It Works, Procedure & Side Effects. Cleveland Clinic. Published August 18, 2021. Accessed January 16, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/14618-dialysis