She was a tall, hazel-eyed brunette, a few years older, who had grown up in the same town as me. She lived on a street right by the high school and danced at my studio all the way through graduation. Then, she went off to college to continue her education and was found unresponsive in her dorm room after a night of partying. The paramedics pronounced her DOA: Dead on Arrival. The autopsy revealed that she had died from alcohol poisoning.
It’s no secret that college students all across America drink alcohol, but it’s important to be mindful that this substance is incredibly dangerous when consumed in excess and especially when combined with other psychoactive substances. It is estimated that about 1,825 U.S. college students die from alcohol-related injuries each year, and alcohol consumption is associated with lower college grades in addition to higher rates of on-campus sexual assaults, suicide attempts, and arrests. Furthermore, it has been found that students who binge drink are more likely to participate in unsafe sex habits, and a large number of American college students report being assaulted by a peer who was under the influence of alcohol (approximately 696,000 reports annually).
It’s important to be mindful that women are more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning than men, and symptoms include a loss of coordination, disorientation, hypothermia that causes clammy hands and bluish skin, repeated vomiting, passing out, slow or irregular breathing, seizures, being conscious but unresponsive, and coma. It is advised that you seek medical attention if you observe these symptoms in another individual, especially because alcohol poisoning can be fatal.
Additionally, there are several things than you can do to help a friend who has alcohol poisoning. You should stay with them and keep them conscious, warm (sine hypothermia can result from alcohol poisoning), hydrated with water. You should monitor their symptoms, and if they fall asleep, it’s important that you ensure that they’re on their side so that they don’t choke on their own vomit. I’ve heard people suggest that you put a backpack on their back so that they are unable to roll over in their sleep. Unfortunately, choking on vomit is just one of the complications that can result from alcohol poisoning, and other complications include being severe dehydration that results in permanent brain damage and developing an irregular heartbeat, which can eventually stop.
Furthermore, long-term excessive alcohol consumption has been shown to have devastating effects on the brain, causing serious neurological problems and permanent brain. Individuals with an alcohol use disorder often have a poor diet that results in malnourishment. This can cause a vitamin B1 deficiency because alcohol prevents the body from absorbing the vitamin. A lack of B1 may result in brain damage after heavy drinking over an extended period of time. One condition that can result is called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which consists of two different forms of dementia and causes symptoms such as paralysis of the eye muscles, loss of coordination, and difficulty learning. An additional complication that is sometimes caused by heavy drinking is called hepatic encephalopathy, and symptoms consist of a shortened attention span, depression, anxiety, and impaired coordination. The disorder results from alcohol causing inflammation to the liver, which is the organ responsible for filtering out toxins. An impaired liver can cause a buildup of toxins in the brain and lead to the unpleasant symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy.