This page is dedicated to increasing awareness about the consumption of alcohol and providing information to decrease the incidents of alcohol poisoning. If you, or someone you know, has a problem with alcohol consumption, please refer to these resources:
Massachusetts Substance Abuse Information and Education
(800) 327 - 5050
Alcoholics Anonymous - Worcester Area Intergroup Inc.
(508) 752 - 9000
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism is a disease in which a person becomes dependent on alcohol and in which a person's alcoholic consumption becomes compulsive and out of control. There are different levels of alcoholism. Binge drinking is when a person drinks an excessive amount in one session in an attempt to get drunk. Alcohol abuse is when a person continues excessive alcohol consumption despite the fact that alcohol has begun to cause personal, legal, financial or social problems. Alcohol dependence is when a person begins to crave alcohol without control, when a person's tolerance level for alcohol increases and / or when a person has withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off.
There is strong research that a history of alcoholism in a person's family can cause a greater risk that that person may develop a problem with alcohol.
- Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Feeling a strong need or compulsion to drink.
- Developing tolerance to alcohol so that you need increasing amounts to feel its effects.
- Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances due to drinking.
- Drinking alone or in secret.
- Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating and shaking, when you don't drink.
- Not remembering conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as "blacking out".
- Making a ritual of having drinks at certain times and becoming annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned.
- Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring you pleasure.
- Irritability when your usual drinking time nears, especially if alcohol isn't available.
- Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in your car.
- Gulping drinks, ordering doubles, becoming intoxicated intentionally to feel good or drinking to feel "normal".
Could you have a problem with alcohol?
- Do you lose time from school or work due to drinking or hangovers?
- Is drinking affecting your reputation?
- Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?
- Have you ever done something drunk that you would not have done if you were sober?
- Do you find that you wish to continue drinking after your friends say they have had enough?
- Has anyone suggested you may have a problem with alcohol?
- Does your drinking make you careless of your friends' welfare?
- Do you drink alone?
- Do you drink before a party to get a head start?
- Have you ever had a blackout (can't remember parts of the evening)?
- Do you drink to build self-confidence?
- Have you ever been to a doctor or counselor because of drinking?
- Do you drink to escape worries or troubles?
- Have you had periods where you told yourself or others that you would cut down, but didn't?
- Have you ever felt out of control with how much or how often you drink?
- Do you have alcoholism in your family?
- Have you experimented or used other drugs?
- Do you drink consistently at a certain time of the day or week?
- Do you hide or lie about how much or how often you drink?
If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, you may have a problem with alcohol. If you answered yes to more than 6, you most likely do have a problem.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person is highly intoxicated. This situation should be considered and treated as a potential medical emergency. Alcohol poisoning is a serious issue – it does happen – IT CAN BE DEADLY!
- Alcohol is categorized as a drug and acts as a depressant.
- Alcohol tends to slow down many of the functions of the body such as blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
- The body can only oxidize on ounce of alcohol per hour (one drink).
What should you do if you think someone might be suffering from alcohol poisoning?
- Try to wake them.
- Turn the person on their side (keep their airway open).
- Do not leave them other than to phone for help.
- Check skin color and temperature (Are they pale? Is their skin cold or clammy? If so, get help immediately!)
- Check the person’s breathing (if there are fewer than 8 breaths per minute or more than 10 seconds between breaths – call for help!)
- There are no absolutes with alcohol poisoning. If you find someone who appears to be highly intoxicated, don’t take a chance that they may be okay…call for help!
Call for help when a person...
- …is having difficulty breathing.
- …is vomiting.
- …has passed out.
- …is injured.
- …has a fever or the chills, feels cold, or is pale, sweaty or bluish in color.
- …is acting in a way that may cause harm to themselves or others.
- …seems to be paranoid.
- …is having difficulty speaking or standing.
- NEVER put an intoxicated person in a cold shower. The shock of the cold could cause them to become unconscious.
- NEVER give an intoxicated person food, liquid, or medicine in an attempt to sober them up. They may vomit or choke.
- NEVER allow an intoxicated person to exercise. They could injure themselves.
- NEVER laugh at, make fun of, or tease an intoxicated person. Alcohol can make a person feel invincible. This may cause the person to become violent or do something dangerous.
- NEVER allow an intoxicated person to drive a car or any other type of vehicle.
- NEVER allow an intoxicated person to walk home.