When to Seek Help for Alcoholism

woman sitting on a chair contemplating alcoholism

“It’s just one more.” “I only drink at home.” “I can make it home, I only live around the corner.”

What’s The Big Deal?

You may have heard something like this before. If you’re honest, you may even have said something like this. A single drink every once in a while; only on special occasions. That’s how it can start. And then, before you know it, that “once in a while” is a few times a week. Or perhaps every single day. Some people can actually have a single drink and not think anything else about it. But for the rest of us, that just isn’t the case.

How Much Is Too Much?

About 95,000 people die each year from consuming too much alcohol. Each day, that’s around 260 people (1). When collecting data, the CDC differentiates between binge drinking and heavy drinking. Binge drinking constitutes 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men and 4 or more drinks for women. Heavy drinking counts drinks by the week; 15 or more for men, and 8 or more for women (2). If you find yourself pushing the envelope against numbers like these, it’s time to seek help.

Leave Anger At The Door

You know that angry feeling you get when someone cuts you off in traffic? If not that, maybe you get a little miffed when the restaurant gets your order wrong. Or when your boss asks you to stay late. Well, have you ever felt the same way when you can’t drink? If you ever feel angry about not being able to drink when you want, that indicates that you have a problem. Ask yourself if you’ve ever felt gypped, frustrated, or cheated where drinking was concerned. If someone cuts you off and you feel angry, that means it’s time to look for treatment.

Routine, Routine, Routine

You need a routine to make your life work. You might slave away in a cubicle from 8 am until 5 pm. Or you might be a shift worker, trying to cram in some extra sleep in your car. Whatever your regular life rhythm is, it might be best not to make alcohol a part of it. To find out if this is you, have an honest conversation with yourself about your routine. Could you remove alcohol from your daily grind today, right now, and still function optimally? If you think so, then do it. If you try and find that you can’t function optimally without alcohol, then you ought to seek treatment.

Rest Is What’s Best

Alcohol makes us feel relaxed and drowsy. It might even help us fall asleep. But alcohol consumption disrupts healthy sleep patterns (3). It impairs our ability to dream and decreases how long we stay asleep. People who struggle with alcoholism frequently experience insomnia. This is especially true for binge drinkers (3). Moreover, alcohol can cause us to experience sleep apnea, which means we stop breathing while asleep. Binge drinking can increase sleep apnea by about 25% (4). Alcohol is not an effective, long-term sleep aid. If drinking is part of your nightly routine to get ready for bed, then you ought to get treatment.

What Should I Do?

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to alcohol, call Midwood Addiction Treatment now at 888-MAT-1110.

Sources

(1) https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/94305
(2) https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/data-stats.htm
(3) https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840512/

Should I Quit Drinking on my Own?

man struggling with alcohol addiction sitting outside

In the United States, an estimated 5.6 percent of people over the age of 18 have Alcohol Use Disorder, known as AUD (1), formerly called alcohol addiction or alcoholism. This means that more than 18.5 million people domestically have difficulty stopping or controlling their alcohol consumption. A further 26 percent of the same age group report having engaged in binge drinking in the past month, and 6.3 percent saying they’ve used alcohol to a heavy or excessive degree.

If you or someone you know is one of these millions, or are merely considering the choice to quit drinking, it can be one of the healthiest choices a person can make. It can also be fatally dangerous.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal

For those who drink heavily or frequently, suddenly stopping alcohol consumption leads to a condition referred to as acute alcohol withdrawal, or AW (2). AW is a disruption to the central nervous system that results from stopping drinking after using on a regular basis for months or years.

Risks of Alcohol Withdrawal

The dangers of AW (3) vary widely from person to person and are frequently unpredictable. It is worth noting that alcohol is one of the few drugs which can be fatal to withdrawal from, the only others being barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Common symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Alterations in mood – agitation, hypervigilance, irritability
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms will usually abate within a few hours to a few days after the last drink. While these are generally manageable for anyone quitting drinking on their own, the more serious symptoms are not.

Severe symptoms of Alcohol WIthdrawal include:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Memory loss or memory disturbances
  • Hallucinosis – visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (DT’s) – disorientation and confusion, tachycardia or rapid heart rate, fever and dangerously elevated blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Death

Severe symptoms can last for several days after the final drink and can occur at unpredictable times. A person may experience only mild complications, only to have heart failure as the result of DT’s.

How to Stop Drinking Safely

If you intend to stop drinking, it’s best to do so with the aid of a physician due to the unforeseeable hazards. There are numerous treatment choices available:

  • Medical detox – A supervised environment wherein you can be monitored by knowledgeable staff who will be able to provide care should complications arise.
  • Partial Hospitalization (PHP) – Allows the individual to live at home but commute to a care facility during the day to monitor and manage their physical state.
  • Intensive Outpatient (IOP) or Outpatient (OP) – Similar to PHP, the IOP and OP programs allow patients to live at home while going to a care center to assist them in managing their mental and physical health.

For those who do wish to stop drinking on their own, it is suggested that a tapering process be undertaken, in which the amount of alcohol consumed is gradually reduced. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) can also be prescribed by your doctor to help facilitate the process.

Living Alcohol-Free

Though the initial process of quitting drinking is difficult, once the discomfort and danger have passed, most people’s bodies will heal on their own, leaving minimal long-term issues. Greater mental clarity will soon come about, along with enhanced physical health.

Living without alcohol is a lifelong process, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs and can provide a fuller, richer, more gratifying existence, free from the pain that drinking brings.

Sources

(1) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
(2) https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/61-66.pdf
(3) https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/05-12.pdf

Early Signs of Alcoholism

sad woman suffering from alcoholism

It’s never too early to seek help if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction. Up to a certain point, the adverse effects of problem or alcoholic drinking are reversible. However, treating alcoholism effectively becomes significantly more difficult over time and far too many families suffer unnecessarily.

This suffering can be avoided if you understand the early signs of alcoholism. The disease of addiction affects everyone a bit differently, but alcoholism does tend to show itself in relatively uniform ways. This is good news for the problem drinker and their family. It’s good news because these early warning signs can be a springboard to constructive action and healing.

Early Signs of Alcoholism

In the remaining sections, we’ll present five of the most common early signs of alcoholism. While many non-alcoholic drinkers will demonstrate one or two of these signs occasionally, it’s definitely time to seek help if they become a consistent part of a drinker’s behavior.

1. An inability to predict or control how much alcohol a drinker consumes.

Social drinkers typically know how much they want to drink on a given occasion. If you or a loved one frequently drinks more than they planned or cannot control the amount of alcohol consumed, then it’s probably time to start asking some difficult questions.

2. Frequent Hangovers

Many people drink too much here and there and end up regretting it in the morning. However, if a drinker starts to suffer from hangovers on a consistent basis, there’s a very good chance that they’ve started along the road to alcoholism.

3. Increased Tolerance to Alcohol

Any significant increase in alcohol tolerance is a sure sign of concern. Seek help right away if you or a loved one needs progressively more alcohol to achieve the same effect.

4. Preoccupation With Alcohol and Cravings

This can be tough to spot from the outside, but anyone who finds themselves thinking about or craving alcohol at inappropriate times should probably seek out professional help immediately.

5. Alcohol Begins to Have a Negative Impact on Major Life Areas

It’s probably time to seek help immediately if alcohol is interfering with someone’s work life, their relationships, their legal situation, or their physical and mental health.

Vigilance is Key

Alcoholism isn’t a disease that shows up in a blood test, a PET scan, or an MRI. No, alcoholism is much more cunning than that. It’s a disease that can progress invisibly at times, especially to the drinker themselves. Fortunately, there are many tell-tale signs that someone’s drinking is becoming a problem.

Vigilance is the key to effective treatment. This means paying attention to you or your loved one’s alcohol-related behaviors and answering some tough questions honestly. The negative effects of excessive drinking inevitably get worse over time, so early recognition is critical to effective treatment. If you notice any of these seven early signs of alcoholism in you or a loved one’s behavior, please seek help right away.

Alcoholism vs. Problem Drinking – What’s the Difference?

women holding alcoholic beverages

Problem drinkers and alcoholics have much in common. Both consume alcohol in enough quantity and frequency that they experience some consequences. Alcoholism is still widely misunderstood by the general public, though there is much less ignorance about this affliction than in the past. Just a few generations ago, regular and conspicuous consumption of alcohol was much more socially acceptable than it is today. The days of the three-martini lunch are behind us now, but alcohol abuse is still a tremendous problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 25 percent of Americans 18 years old or older report they engaged in binge drinking in the last month. An estimated 88,000 Americans die due to alcohol-related causes every year, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the country. (1)

The Main Difference Between Alcoholism and Problem Drinking

The primary difference between an alcoholic and a problem drinker is the physical dependence on alcohol. A problem drinker may eagerly anticipate the arrival of the weekend so they can binge drink. An alcoholic will usually need to drink daily simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Some alcoholics can go for a few days without a drink, but their sleep is disrupted and they become anxious and increasingly uncomfortable. Many may even be aware that they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism is a progressive disease however and left unchecked, the amount of alcohol consumed inevitably grows. Sooner or later, the alcoholic will reach a stage where withdrawal symptoms become severe and even life-threatening if they go for long without a drink.

Consequences of Problem Drinking

A problem drinker will often experience consequences. Splitting hangovers. Being late to work. Financial problems and even legal issues like DUI’s or other arrests related to behavior while drinking. However, a problem drinker still has the power of choice. They often go for days or even weeks at a time without a drink without experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. Problem drinkers who come to terms with the issue often decide the consequences are unacceptable. Before their drinking develops into physical dependence, they make the decision to abstain or severely curtail their drinking. A common example is college students who may drink to excess while in school, but still manage to complete their studies. When they leave school and enter the workplace, build families and so forth, they leave the problem drinking behind.

An alcoholic has largely lost the power of choice. While they may exercise great willpower in resisting a drink for 24 or 48 hours or more, they do so in discomfort. Anxiety, insomnia, cold sweats are often part of the experience. Depending on the stage of alcoholism, they may even experience seizures without alcohol. Ultimately dealing with alcoholism isn’t a matter of will. The real battle begins when the alcoholic accepts that alcohol is their master. That their drinking is beyond their control and even if they are able to abruptly stop for a time, they do so at risk to their own comfort and safety. More often than not, the alcoholic has experienced brief periods of sobriety, followed by relapse. This inability to get sober and stay sober is often what leads them to finally accept outside help to overcome their alcoholism. If you believe you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, help is available. No matter your age or circumstances, resources are available. Give us a call at (888) MAT-1110 and let’s talk about it.

(1) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Global Parents Day: Support for Parents of Addicted Children

Help for Parents of Addicted Children

Today, June 1st, is Global Day of Parents, a holiday created by the UN to recognize and appreciate the parents in our lives and society. To all parents of addicted children: we see you, we appreciate you, and we support you. 

We know that holidays can be particularly painful for parents of addicted children, we’ve listed some coping strategies for dealing with this crisis.

 

Learn all you can about Addiction 

Addiction is a chronic disease that takes over the lives of those it affects and their loved ones. There are many misconceptions around addiction and substance abuse. Learning about how addiction happens, how it affects your child and how it affects you and your family are all important steps to understanding and healing. Educating yourself on the subject can also help you spot signs and symptoms as well as help manage expectations before and during the recovery process. 

 

Understand the Difference Between Helping and Enabling

As parents, we love our children. We have spent our lives as parents keeping them safe from harm, teaching them, helping them grow. To watch them in crisis is unnerving. Our protection instincts kick in and all we want to do is help. Unfortunately this helping instinct can lead to enabling. Addicted children will take advantage of this to keep the flow of their addiction running. 

It’s important to ask yourself, “Will this action enable my child’s addiction?” To get your child through addiction means you must ask yourself this at every turn. Every action you take, every boundary you establish needs to be working towards getting them into sobriety. 

Enabling comes in when the actions you take make it easier for your child to continue using drugs. Sometimes it’s pretty clear: Giving food or gas money that may be used to buy drugs, paying their rent so they still have a place to live, or bailing them out of trouble their drug use has caused are all overt acts of enabling.

But enabling can also be more subtle. Do you minimize their drug use to family members? Have you ever lied for them to cover their addiction? Do you avoid it altogether, so that when your child comes home for dinner one week things can just “be normal for once”? Staying quiet to keep the peace or minimizing the scope of the situation are both dangerous acts of enabling. Addiction thrives in the dark. 

 

Understand that their choices are not reflections of your parenting 

Addicts lie, cheat, and steal. They are consumed by finding their next fix. It is not because you did not teach them right from wrong, it is not because you failed them as a parent. There is a phrase in addiction circles called the “3 C’s”: You did not cause their addiction, you cannot control their addiction. All you can do is change yourself and your reaction. Do not blame yourself. Find support groups, seek therapy, and find ways to care for yourself. In truth, all we can ever truly have control over in life is ourselves and our emotional response. Learning to change the natural, impulsive reactions we have to situations like this can go a long way in weathering the storm. 

 

Create boundaries to protect yourself and your family 

Boundaries are the anti-enabling. It is important to set clear rules and boundaries with addicted children to protect yourself, your loved ones, and ultimately your addicted child. Not letting them come to the house while high, if they’re still living at home not allowing them to have drug-using friends over, not allowing them to abuse, insult, or manipulate you. These are all healthy boundaries that can protect your family physically and emotionally from addictive behaviors. 

 

Practice Self-Care 

This journey you are on is a painful, stressful, exhausting one. Living in crisis can cause serious mental and physical health issues which is why it is so important to take time to prioritize your wellbeing. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right, and taking time for yourself. 

 

Establish an Open Dialogue

Learn to communicate with honesty, vulnerability, and acceptance. Anger, yelling, and/or blaming do not create safe spaces in which to discuss problems and can push the addict further away. Once you have stopped enabling and have firm boundaries set, having this open channel of communication will be helpful when your addicted child does decide to discuss their situation. A safe space is one in which help can be asked for, and treatment can be suggested. 

 

Treatment is the answer, but they need to want it for themselves 

Getting your addicted child into treatment is the best possible option for getting them into a life of sobriety and health. However, it is important to know that treatment works best when the addict truly wants to change. Sometimes an addict needs to hit rock bottom to make this change but not always. Learn all you can about treatment options and continue encouraging it until they decide they want to get help. When the time comes, professional treatment can change their life. 

 

Seeking Help

Being the parent of an addicted child is one of the biggest and most painful challenges a parent can face, we hope this article was able to offer some support and coping strategies. If you are struggling with an addicted child and don’t know what to do, please reach out. 

Our expert team at Harmony Recovery Group are here to help, both as a supportive ear and a strategy for change. Call us at (866) 461-4474

How Long Does Liquor Stay in Your System?

Liquor is a distilled form of alcohol with an average alcohol per volume of 40%, or 80 proof. Liquor, otherwise known as spirits, can found in several different forms, including vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, tequila, and many more. The body processes liquor in a manner similar to all other forms of alcohol, such as beer and wine.

On average, a normal functioning liver can process about ten grams of ethyl alcohol, or one standard drink, per hour. Shortly after consuming alcohol, about 20% will travel through blood vessels on the way to the stomach and then to the brain. The rest to sent to the small intestine, where it is gradually absorbed into the bloodstream. After this, alcohol is moved to the liver, where it is processed and metabolized.

Alcohol in a person’s body is at its peak, and BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is highest just before metabolization begins. When a person consumes more than one alcoholic drink in an hour, the liver gets backed up and cannot process the extra alcohol in the bloodstream. This excess alcohol causes intoxication as well as many mental and physical impairments.

Testing for the Presence of Alcohol

There are a few different tests for alcohol that may be used by law enforcement, the legal system, or employers to determine if a person is intoxicated or has consumed alcohol in the recent past.

Breathalyzer – A breathalyzer is an instrument commonly used by police law enforcement to determine if a driver has consumed too much alcohol before operating a motor vehicle. A breathalyzer is a kind of apparatus in which a suspected drinker must blow a puff of air. The device estimates the person’s BAC as grams of alcohol per mL of blood. 

Blood Tests – Alcohol can be identified in the blood for up to 36 hours after the last drink, but it detects most accurately between 6-12 hours. Blood tests are not used as often as breathalyzers because they are more costly and invasive, but occasionally they will be ordered for legal purposes. However, testing for alcohol using blood is considered to be the most accurate method available.

Urine Tests – Alcohol can also be detected in urine from between 8-80 hours. Again, urine tests are not usually administered by employers because alcohol is legal, and a person may have consumed alcohol several days before the test. They also are not good for on-the-spot testing if a person appears to be intoxicated. Urine tests are most likely to be required for legal purposes, such as for people on probation.

Saliva and Hair Tests – Occasionally saliva swabs are used, and they can detect alcohol for up to 24 hours. Hair follicle tests are rare, but when used, they can detect alcohol for up to 90 days, perhaps longer.

Rate of Intoxication

Several factors influence the rate at which an individual will become intoxicated. Alcohol is metabolized at about the same rate for most people, assuming they have a healthy liver, and their overall health is stable. Other factors that may affect a person’s level intoxication include the following:

  • Age and sex
  • Ethnicity
  • Weight and body fat percentage
  • Duration and amount of alcohol use
  • Amount and fat content of food in the stomach
  • Other substances in the body

NOTE: A standard drink of alcohol is defined as 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1 oz. of liquor.

Effects of Alcohol

How Long Does Liquor Stay in Your System? | Midwood Addiction

For many, the effects of alcohol begin as rewarding, relaxing, and pleasurable, which is the primary reason people enjoy drinking it. Nevertheless, there are a litany short- and long-term adverse effects and very few, if any, positive long-term consequences of alcohol use. Alcohol’s short-term effect on the body is closely related to a person’s BAC.

Short-term effects include the following:

At 0.03–0.12% BAC:


  • Enhanced mood
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Impaired attention span


  • Flushed face or skin
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Impaired decision-making and judgment


At 0.09–0.25% BAC:


  • Sedation
  • Impaired memory
  • Blurred vision


  • Sensory impairments
  • Impaired balance and motor skills
  • Reduced ability to react to stimuli


At 0.25–0.40% BAC:


  • Amnesia
  • Staggered movements
  • Nausea and vomiting


  • Incontinence
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Transient consciousness or unconsciousness


At 0.35–0.8% BAC:


  • Loss of pupillary light reflex
  • Profound respiratory depression
  • Perilously slow heart rate


  • Weak pulse
  • Acute liver failure (rare)
  • Coma or death


A BAC of 0.40% or above is considered to be life-threatening in many instances. Depending on an individual’s level tolerance, when this BAC is reached, coma or death may be imminent. 

Alcohol Poisoning

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing alcohol poisoning, please call 911 immediately. If you are watching over a person suffering, do not let them “sleep it off” and do not leave them alone until emergency medical help arrives.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:


  • Confusion
  • Profoundly impaired coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures (uncommon)
  • Stupor or unresponsiveness


  • Low body temperature
  • Cold clammy skin
  • Bluing of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Profoundly depressed breathing


Chronic Alcoholism

Long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include the following:


  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Anemia (lack of iron)
  • Interrupted brain development
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  • Loss of brain cells


  • Cognitive impairments
  • Memory impairments
  • Reduced attention span
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Cirrhosis and other liver diseases


Moreover, chronic, excessive alcohol use increases the risk of cardiovascular problems and stroke, as well as several forms of cancer, including the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophageal breast, and gastrointestinal system.

How Long Does Liquor Stay in Your System? | Midwood Addiction

Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal

The more often a person consumes alcohol, the higher their tolerance will become. Tolerance is a condition that develops in response to repeated, heavy alcohol use. It occurs because the body adapts to its presence and dedicates more enzymes to break it down more efficiently. This reaction leads to a reduced response to alcohol as a result of repeated exposure.

Tolerance is one of the body’s defense mechanisms that is enacted because alcohol is essentially a poison. In fact, the development of tolerance can effectively reduce an individual’s risk of alcohol poisoning. There have been cases of people surviving unbelievably high BAC levels that would have killed the average person at a much lower BAC.

Dependence is hallmarked by the brain’s having developed a need for alcohol to function normally, as well as the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the person tries to stop drinking. These symptoms can range in intensity from mild-severe, and, in extreme cases, result in life-threatening complications and death.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:


  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Irritability and moodiness


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired mental functioning
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens


Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic, life-long disease, and, unfortunately, no one cure will work for everyone. Very few alcoholics will ever be able to return to ‘normal’ drinking or fully reclaim their lives while they are engaging in any level of alcohol use.

Fortunately, alcohol dependence is very treatable. Modern treatment approaches typically feature services clinically-proven to be effective at improving patient outcomes long-term. These services may include psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, group support, and medication-assisted treatment. 

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers these services in partial-hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient formats. We provide clients with the tools, skills, and support they need to experience a full recovery and enjoy long-lasting, fulfilling lives.

If you or someone you love is struggling to overcome an alcohol addiction, please contact us today to discuss treatment options. We are committed to helping those who need it most make their lives better so they can look forward to a healthy, happy future free from the use of drugs and alcohol!

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol Poisoning | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol during a period of time that is not long enough to safely metabolize it. Without treatment, organs will begin to shut down, and the person may die. Those that recover may also continue to suffer long-term from complications such as brain damage.

Alcohol poisoning is one among the many risks involved with excessive drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are around 2,200 deaths due to alcohol poisoning each year in the United States, which equals an average of six fatalities every day.

Of these deaths, more than three-quarters (76%) are between the ages of 35-64, and alcohol use disorder is a factor in nearly one-third (30%) of all fatalities. A binge-pattern of drinking is most often responsible for alcohol poisoning, which is defined as more than 4-5 drinks per occasion for women and men, respectively.

What are the Critical Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. If someone exhibits symptoms of alcohol poisoning, please call 911 immediately.

The most common symptoms of alcohol poisoning include, but are not limited to the following:


  • Confusion
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


  • Choking
  • Irregular or slow breathing
  • Bluish skin
  • Seizures


  • Low body temperature
  • Passing out/fainting
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Unconsciousness


If you are questioning whether a person has alcohol poisoning and needs medical attention, use the CUPS acronym:

  • Cold or clammy, bluish or pale skin
  • Unconscious or unfocused
  • Puking uncontrollably, suddenly, or often
  • Slow or shallow, labored breathing

How the Body Processes Alcohol

Alcoholic Liver Disease

The liver can only process about one serving of alcohol per hour. A typical serving includes 12 ounces of beer (5%), 5 ounces of wine (12%) or 1.5 ounces of liquor (80 proof.)

Consuming one serving of alcohol per hour will increase a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but generally not to any impaired extent. Drinking more than this can raise a BAC to .08%, an amount widely considered to be a level of impairment in which operating a motor vehicle is illegal.

Above a BAC of .08%, significant cognitive and motor impairments can begin to occur, and a BAC over .3 can be life-threatening among those without a fair tolerance for alcohol. A BAC of .4% or higher is considered a fatal amount for about half of all humans.

In some cases, people with an extremely high tolerance have survived BAC levels at .5% and above, but these are rare.

Depending on other individual factors, such as age, gender, weight, and overall health, alcohol poisoning can occur at lower levels of consumption. On average, however, a man weighing 160 pounds will probably experience alcohol poisoning after drinking about 15 shots of liquor in under four hours, whereas a woman at 120 pounds will suffer the same effects after just nine shots in roughly the same period.

How Long Does it Take to Get Alcohol Out of Your System?

Certain tests, such as those that assess blood or breathalyzer can only detect alcohol in a person’s system for up to 24 hours. Saliva and urine tests, however, can identify the presence of alcohol for as many as five days. Hair follicle tests, though rarely used, can reveal alcohol consumption up to 90 days after use.

Over time, the body breaks down alcohol for elimination by using several processes, the main one involving two enzymes, ADH and ALDH. ADH produces a toxic metabolite called acetaldehyde, which is then broken down to another byproduct known as acetate, which is further metabolized to carbon dioxide and water for elimination.

Excessive alcohol use during an insufficient time period for processing results in alcohol continuing to enter the bloodstream even after drinking has stopped. Binging on alcohol can lead to a rise in BAC for up to 40 minutes after the last drink, as the liver is still processing alcohol already consumed.

Alcohol consumption that results in alcohol poisoning will stay in the body for several hours and will continue to wreak havoc on the brain and vital organs during this time.

How to Help a Person Suffering from Alcohol Poisoning

It is critical for the survival of a person experiencing alcohol poisoning to not assume he or she will simply sleep it off. Symptoms will likely worsen, and he or she faces a high risk for vomit inhalation and choking, respiratory suppression or arrest, seizures, coma, and death.

If you are in the position to care for a person who is suffering from alcohol poisoning while waiting for first responders to arrive, you can help him or her in the following ways:

  • Try to keep the person awake if they are conscious.
  • Keep conscious persons in an upright position.
  • Encourage them to drink water to avoid worsening dehydration.
  • Do not let them use more alcohol or other drugs.
  • Position unconscious persons in the recovery position.
  • Stay close to them until emergency personnel arrives.

Actions That DO NOT HELP Recovery From Alcohol Poisoning

Common myths and misconceptions about helping a person sober up include the following:

  • Drinking coffee – this can contribute to further dehydration.
  • Sleeping it off. People who are experiencing alcohol poisoning may go to sleep and never wake up.
  • Walking it off. Forcing someone to walk increases the risk o falls and injuries.
  • Exercising it off. This can actually cause the BAC in people suffering from alcohol poisoning to rise.
  • Taking a cold shower. Alcohol poisoning can cause low body temperature (hypothermia), and cold water can increase this effect and result in shock.
  • Taking medication. Do not give the person anything other than water. Medicines and drugs can adversely interact with alcohol and lead to vomiting, choking, and further poisoning and intoxication.

Treatment for Alcoholism

How Long Does Alcohol Poisoning Last? | Midwood Addiction Treatment Center

Experiencing alcohol poisoning is a tell-tale sign that treatment for alcoholism is needed. Problem drinking includes binge drinking, daily drinking, and any level of drinking that negatively affects one’s health, family, social interactions, and quality of life.

Our staff includes addiction specialists and other healthcare personnel trained to enact customized programs that treat the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal and help people embark on the path to recovery.

Treatment using begins with detox, a medically-assisted process in which the patient is supervised 24-7 for several days to ensure that life-threatening complications do not occur and that symptoms of withdrawal are managed.

Long-term treatment then continues in our rehab center, which includes behavioral therapy, individual and group therapy, counseling, support groups, and ongoing aftercare. Ideally, patients should consider intensive treatment for not less than 30 days, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis as prudent.

Behavioral therapy helps alcohol abusers develop healthier coping mechanisms and replace negative thoughts and feelings with more constructive responses.

Medication-assisted treatment can also be very beneficial for reducing cravings, and pharmaceutical drugs such as naltrexone have been shown to help problem drinkers enjoy long-lasting sobriety.

Support groups such as 12-step programs are helpful for maintaining long-term abstinence, and ongoing treatments such as psychiatric services and counseling are also recommended. Also, after discharge from treatment, clients can participate in our aftercare program and alumni activities.

Our programs are structured with various components of evidence-based treatment practices and holistic approaches to treatment that provide our patients with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful in their recovery.

If you or your loved one is suffering from substance abuse, please contact us soon as possible.

What Is Methanol Poisoning?

What Is Methanol Poisoning? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Methanol (wood alcohol, methyl alcohol) is a type of alcohol that is primarily used to produce fuel, antifreeze, and solvents. It is a colorless liquid that is volatile, flammable, and also used to create a number of other chemicals, such as acetic acid.

Unlike ethanol, methanol is toxic for humans to consume. The symptoms of methanol toxicity include a decreased level of consciousness, impaired coordination, vomiting, stomach pain, and a unique smell on the breath. Impaired vision may begin as early as twelve hours following consumption. Long term outcomes may include kidney failure and blindness.

Toxicity and death are possible after consuming just a small amount. Indeed, when ingested, as little as 10 mL of pure methanol is metabolized into formic acid, which can cause irreversible blindness by destroying the optic nerve—and just 15 mL has the potential to be fatal.

Methanol Poisoning

Methanol poisoning is most often due to unintentional or purposeful ingestions, as well as accidental poisonings due to distilling and fermenting errors and alcoholic beverage contamination. It can also occur after the consumption of windshield wiper fluid.

Cases of methanol poisoning may be accidental or done intentionally in an attempt to commit suicide. Less commonly, toxicity may occur inadvertently through skin exposure or breathing in the fumes.

However, most acute cases of methanol toxicity are caused by accidental ingestion. Methanol itself is not particularly toxic to humans, but it is broken down in the body to the metabolites formaldehyde, formic acid, and formate, which are toxic. These hazardous byproducts can cause metabolic acidosis, blindness, cardiovascular problems, and death.

Early treatment increases the likelihood of a good outcome in cases of methanol poisoning. Treatment includes stabilizing the person, followed by the administration of an antidote known as fomepizole.

What Is Methanol Poisoning? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Methanol Outbreaks

Outbreaks have occurred related to contamination of what would normally be considered consumable alcohol. This phenomenon is more common in the developing world, but it has happened in developed countries, as well. Those affected are typically adult males. In 2013, more than 1700 cases were documented in the U.S.

In January 2016, the consumption of a mixture of Mountain Dew and methanol (Dewshine) caused the deaths of two Tennessee high school students. The methanol was believed to have come from racing fuel.

In December 2016, at least 75 people in Irkutsk, Russia, fell ill and died after consuming a counterfeit body lotion that primarily consisted of methanol, rather than ethanol as it was labeled. Prior to this event, the body lotion had been used as a low-cost alternative to vodka by the impoverished people in the region. This event occurred despite warnings on bottles that it was not safe for consumption and long-standing problems with alcohol poisoning across Russia.

In February 2019, 100 people in the northern India states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand died by drinking toxic alcohol. Days later, 156 people, mostly tea plantation workers, died in Assam state.

In August 2019 it was announced that authorities in the country of Costa Rica had confiscated thousands of containers of alcohol and also shut down some businesses that serve liquor. This action occurred in response to the more than two dozen deaths related to methanol poisoning that happened tragically over the summer.

The country’s Health Ministry stated that 59 people had been hospitalized in association with tainted alcohol. Of those, 25 died. Although Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, the Health Ministry noted that nearly everyone who has been affected had been a resident of Costa Rica. Most of the poisonings were reported in the capital San Jose and in Alajuela and included 19 men and six women.

It’s been reported that methanol will sometimes be added to liquor to increase the volume of the drink. Ethanol is sometimes adulterated and made poisonous by the addition of methanol.

NOTE: Alcohol poisoning of any kind is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical assistance. If you suspect that you or someone else is a victim of methanol poisoning, please call 911 immediately.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Those who have consumed methanol either accidentally or intentionally may be suffering from a substance use disorder and should seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Midwood Addiction Treatment offers comprehensive programs in partial hospitalization and outpatient formats. All of our programs are comprised of evidence-based services essential for the process of recovery, including, but not limited to, the following:


  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual/group counseling
  • Peer support groups


  • Health and wellness education
  • Substance abuse education
  • Art and music therapy


  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Sober living/housing
  • Aftercare planning


If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism and is ready to break free from the chains of addiction, contact us today! Discover how we help those who need it most achieve abstinence and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Alcohol Intoxication

How Long Does it Take to Get Sober?

How Long Does it Take to Get Sober? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

An average liver can process approximately 1 unit of alcohol per hour. This means that if you drink 12 units, it’ll take you roughly 12 hours to fully sober up. People who start drinking never do so with the express purpose of developing alcoholism. Often, what begins as casual or occasional binge drinking morphs into a dangerous habit over time.

When a person drinks excessively, intoxication occurs. The liver processes only about 1-2 standard drinks per hour. Anything beyond this causes a person’s blood alcohol concentration to rise significantly. Depending on how much a person drinks and other factors, it can take hours for a person to completely sober up.

One standard drink is defined as the following:

  • 12 oz. of beer at about 5% ABV
  • 5 oz. of wine at about 12% ABV
  • One shot of liquor at about 40% ABV (80 proof)

While the length of time a person remains “drunk” varies, the average, moderately-intoxicated person will probably be sober in 6-8 hours. If it takes much longer than this, the person should be (or should have been) hospitalized.

Charts such as the one seen here can help a person gauge what their blood alcohol concentration will be over the next few hours after consuming a certain number of drinks.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Charts

Image via University of California: https://safeparty.ucdavis.edu/watch-your-bac

Alcohol Withdrawal

Binge drinking or long-term drinking can lead to highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. But, a person doesn’t have to be an alcoholic to encounter severe alcohol withdrawal. In fact, if you’ve never experienced it, this can be quite frightening, especially for those who don’t realize how intense these symptoms can be.

The duration of alcohol withdrawal is different for everyone. Nonetheless, according to the National Library of Medicine, this process usually begins within about 8 hours after the last alcoholic drink is consumed, but it may take longer. Acute symptoms, which are the most worrisome, tend to peak within 24-72 hours, then subside for the next few days. Emotional symptoms, however, may persist for much longer.

Determining Factors

Many factors can play a role in the number of hours a person remains intoxicated, as well as how long and intense the withdrawal process will be. These factors include the following:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Length of time the person has been drinking
  • How frequently the person has been drinking on a regular basis
  • Nutritional considerations
  • Amount of food consumed before or during drinking
  • Weight, age, and sex (male or female)
  • Other substances ingested, such as prescription or illicit drugs
  • Presence of co-occurring physical or mental health conditions

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin within hours of an excessive drinking episode. It is essential to realize that alcohol withdrawal syndrome is potentially life-threatening if not addressed medically.

A person who has been drinking a large amount of alcohol or for a long time (i.e., regularly, every day) will develop a physiological dependence. When this occurs, their brain has become accustomed to the presence of alcohol.

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning that it inhibits the effects of certain chemical messengers in the brain. When alcohol is removed, a rebound effect occurs, not unlike a spring bouncing back. This effects can result in many adverse complications, including anxiety, accelerated heart rate, and even seizures.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may also include the following:


  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme Fatigue


  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings


  • Dangerous dehydration
  • Shakiness
  • Tremors
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)


In many ways, these symptoms are the exact opposite of those that a person experiences when intoxicated. Many people enjoy the feelings that alcohol induces, and this can compel them to drink repeatedly and to excess. The discomfort of withdrawal often drives people to drink again to prevent it—a vicious cycle.

How Long Does it Take to Get Sober? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

The Importance of Professional Help

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it’s critical to seek medical care. If delirium tremens develops, the possibility of death skyrockets.

Detoxing under the supervision of medical professionals ensures a person’s safety, reduces the likelihood of relapse, and increases their comfort. What’s more, medications can be administered to mitigate withdrawal symptoms, and staff will ensure the patient receives adequate nutrition and is well-hydrated.

Note that alcohol detox is not the same thing as a complete, comprehensive rehab program. Therefore, once detox is completed, patients with substance abuse issues are should enroll in further treatment.

Most people who struggle with alcoholism are unable to remain sober long-term. For this reason, extended therapeutic care is usually needed to help those suffering prevent relapse and find healthier ways of dealing with negative emotions and stress.

Get Treatment

Midwood Addiction Treatment offers evidence-based treatment programs that are customized to each individual’s unique needs. In addition to outpatient detox, we offer programs in partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient formats.

Our therapeutic services include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Behavioral therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling


  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Substance abuse education
  • Peer support groups


  • Health and wellness
  • Holistic therapies
  • Aftercare planning


Contact us today if you are ready to break free from the chains of addiction for life! We are committed to helping our clients succeed at recovery and reclaim the healthy and happy lives they deserve!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Alcohol Detox Symptoms

Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol Intoxication | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Alcohol intoxication is a temporary condition caused by consuming alcohol, usually in an attempt to experience euphoria or as a social lubricant. Severe alcohol intoxication is commonly referred to as alcohol poisoning and is potentially life-threatening.

Alcohol intoxication is most commonly the result of ethanol contained in commercial or homemade alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, and liquor. However, there are several other types of alcohol that be found in a variety of sources that include methanol, isopropanol, and ethylene glycol. These poisonings are uncommon are not addressed in this article, but more information including individual effects and treatment can be found here.

Alcohol consumed orally is absorbed into the blood through the small intestine and the stomach. Because the body absorbs alcohol faster than the liver can metabolize or eliminate it, blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) continue to rise with consumption and peak between half an hour and ninety minutes thereafter.

Increasing levels of blood alcohol can eventually cause symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and the characteristic changes in speech and motor skill impairments that are closely associated with drunkenness.

Risk of Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which is a type of substance that decreases activity in the brain and can reduce the body’s reaction time. The absorption rate of alcohol and risks related to alcohol intoxication depends on a number of factors, including the amount and percentage of alcohol consumed, the period of time in which it was ingested, presence or absence of food in the stomach, and individual factors including tolerance, weight, sex, and other substances in the person’s system.

For example, individuals who do not drink alcohol often tend to get more intoxicated more quickly and more intensely than those who drink alcohol regularly—although this is not always the case. Also, women and younger adults may become drunk more easily than men, due to differences in body size and fat composition and variations in each person’s system’s ability to process alcohol.

Binge drinking is the most common cause of alcohol intoxication and alcohol poisoning and is defined as drinking 4 or 5 units of alcohol in a two-hour time frame for women and men, respectively. In the U.S. one unit of alcohol is considered to be approximately one ounce of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication

Early effects of alcohol intoxication may include accelerated heartbeat, feelings of confidence and well-being, facial flushing, and impaired motor coordination.

Symptoms of worsening alcohol intoxication include:


  • Reduced inhibition
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Reduced attentiveness


  • Slurred speech
  • Impulsive movements
  • Sleepiness


  • Stupor
  • Blackouts
  • Loss of consciousness


People with very severe intoxication may also become very cold, dehydrated, and suffer seizures.

Levels of Alcohol Intoxication

Because everyone processes alcohol differently, the amount of alcohol it takes to cause each individual to exhibit the numerous degrees of intoxication also varies. However, the levels of alcohol intoxication can generally be grouped as follows:

Mild Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol Intoxication | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Symptoms of mild alcohol intoxication, which is typically reflective of a BAC of between .02-.05%, may include talkativeness, feelings of relaxation and sedation, and minor impairments in fine motor coordination.

Moderate Alcohol Intoxication

Moderate alcohol intoxication, which is typically a BAC of between .05-.20%, may include the following symptoms:


  • Poor fine motor coordination
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Clumsy and unsteady gait
  • Reduced reaction time


  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Impaired judgment
  • Altered sense perception
  • Mood swings


  • Changes in personality
  • Uncharacteristic behavior
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Memory impairment


Severe Alcohol Intoxication

Symptoms of severe alcohol intoxication are typically associated with a BAC of greater than .20% and may include the following:


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Problems speaking
  • Double vision


  • Amnesia
  • Delirium
  • Feeling very cold
  • Lethargy


  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Death


In people who do not regularly consume alcohol, a level of .40 or above may be lethal—an event better known as alcohol poisoning. People with alcoholism can usually drink more alcohol than others and therefore have higher blood alcohol levels without exhibiting symptoms of intoxication as intensely. Nonetheless, alcohol poisoning can result in sudden death due to respiratory depression and heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

People observing a person at this level of intoxication may notice the following signs:


  • Strong alcoholic breath
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing
  • Enlarged pupils


  • Rapid eye movements
  • Flushing of the face
  • Disorganized speech
  • Incoherence


  • Lack of alertness
  • Semi-consciousness
  • Stupor
  • Unresponsiveness


When to Seek Medical Help

Some complications from alcohol poisoning require immediate emergency medical attention, including breathing problems, uncontrollable vomiting, chest pain, and seizures. If a person becomes semi-conscious or unconscious and is experiencing severe vomiting, it is important to monitor them to minimize the risk of inhalation of vomit. Aspirated vomit can result in death by suffocation, or can cause a bacterial infection in the lungs.

To reduce the risk of vomit being inhaled, place the person on their side, facing slightly downwards, supported by bent limbs. A person in this condition must be closely supervised, and their caregivers should seek emergency medical help for them immediately. Tragically, people who binge often drink rapidly—that is, those who consume very large amounts of alcohol in a brief period risk drinking a lethal amount of alcohol even before signs of intoxication become evident.

Alcohol Intoxication | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Treating Alcohol Intoxication

Treatment of alcohol intoxication primarily involves the administration of fluids and the management of nausea and vomiting. People who are mildly to moderately intoxicated will eventually process the alcohol without significant complications and improve with time. People with severe alcohol intoxication, however, often need medical evaluation or hospitalization to receive fluids intravenously and to manage complications such as seizures or difficulty breathing.

Those in the presence of someone who is drunk should take steps to make sure that they are safe, conscious, and are not vomiting uncontrollably or showing signs of having difficulty breathing. If the person is unresponsive, unconscious, and vomiting or exhibiting signs of respiratory distress, seek medical care immediately, especially if the person’s condition worsens or does not show any improvement in a reasonable amount of time.

Other Serious Complications of Alcohol Intoxication

Hyponatremia (severe sodium imbalance in the body) is a potentially life-threatening condition that may occur in those who vomit uncontrollably and cannot keep down electrolyte fluids or food.

Dysrhythmia is a condition in which the intoxicated person experiences heart arrhythmias after binge drinking.

Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by severe inflammation of the pancreas and can manifest soon after binge drinking. Acute pancreatitis can be deadly and is considered a medical emergency.

A lack of coordination and slowed reaction time increases an intoxicated person’s risk of injury from falls, burns, car accidents, stunts, etc. If a drunk person becomes belligerent and aggressive, which is common, this can lead to heated arguments, fights, and assaults that injure either the intoxicated person or those around him or her. In turn, these drunken actions can lead to legal ramifications.

Treatment for Alcoholism

People who become intoxicated often and find it difficult to control their drinking should seek professional help as soon as possible. Midwood Addiction Treatment offers a comprehensive approach to substance abuse that includes therapeutic services vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and more.

If you or someone you love has a drinking problem, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. Discover how we help people free themselves from drugs and alcohol once and for all!