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Teen Alcohol Poisoning

If your teen drinks a large amount of alcohol within a short period of time, they may experience a potentially life-threatening condition called alcohol poisoning.

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3 min read

How Common is Alcohol Poisoning Among Young People?

Research shows that many teens do not consider that they could actually die from drinking too much. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to alcohol poisoning, since they consume 90% of their alcohol through binge drinking and often don’t know their limits.


The media often paints the picture of the worst case scenario of alcohol abuse being a hangover. Unfortunately, the dangers of teen alcohol abuse are much more serious.

Because drinking is illegal for people under age 21, teenagers are often afraid to call for help if they think that they or a friend may have had too much alcohol. This leads to poor decisions such as allowing a drunk friend to “sleep it off.” This negligence is a major contributing factor in teenage deaths due to alcohol abuse.

How Many Teenagers Die of Alcohol Poisoning?

Every year, around 245 young people under 21 die of alcohol poisoning or from alcohol-related falls, burns or drowning incidents.

Death from alcohol poisoning is a likely result of one of the following:

  • Shutdown of Essential Functions – Excessive alcohol consumption causes the brain to “numb” certain functions, including breathing. In severe situations, it can even make the heart stop.
  • Choking on Vomit – When alcohol poisoning occurs, the gag reflex is dulled, so a teen who is left to “sleep it off” may choke on their own vomit and suffocate.
  • Hypothermia – Since alcohol poisoning causes the body temperature to drop, teens can die of hypothermia if they do not have adequate clothing or shelter.
  • Dehydration – Alcohol consumption is directly proportional to dehydration, the severest instances leading to fatalities.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

Teen girl passed out with alcohol bottle

Alcohol poisoning is also referred to as alcohol overdose and alcohol intoxication. Like other forms of drug overdose, alcohol poisoning is a consequence of drinking too much alcohol in too short a time period, effectively shutting down the body’s vital processes.

Overdosing on alcohol can cause reflexes to be dulled, heart and lung function to be impaired, and body temperature to not be regulated properly.

What Are Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms?

If your teenager comes home drunk, you will need to talk to them later about their drinking. However, for the time being, their safety is paramount, so keep a close eye out for these warning signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Clammy or bluish skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Unconsciousness, semi-consciousness or unresponsiveness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Always be wary of teenage alcoholism warning signs, which may include sudden shifts in personality and powerful withdrawal symptoms that kick in when they go without a drink for longer than they’re used to.

What are the Side Effects of Alcohol Poisoning?

Death isn’t the only way that alcohol poisoning can impact a teen’s life. Here are some of the permanent side effects of alcohol poisoning:

  • Organ damage (especially the liver)
  • Esophageal damage from vomiting
  • Brain damage

A single bout of alcohol poisoning can have life-altering neurological impact on a teenager.

Does Your Child Need Alcohol Treatment?

If you see signs that your child may be abusing alcohol, you need to take action now. It can be difficult to reach out — addiction shame from friends and society can be a major hindrance to recovery. However, addiction is a disease which requires medical treatment, just the same way that the flu merits a trip to the doctor.


At, we are here to help your family through this process. We can help you decide if your child needs professional treatment, sort through insurance options, and help you determine any next steps that should be taken. It is free to call us, and everything we discuss will be kept strictly confidential.

Your child may need prompt medical help for alcohol abuse — especially when it comes to treating alcohol poisoning. Take control of addiction by getting in touch with us.


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