December 15, 2022

Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center issues holiday alcohol advisory

The holiday season is here and the Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine advises against consuming too much alcohol while making merry.

Those who overconsume alcohol can experience negative health effects and consequences. Injuries from falls and vehicle accidents are common results of alcohol use and abuse. Individuals may underestimate the time it takes for the effects of alcohol to set in. This can lead to greater alcohol consumption and prolonged adverse symptoms. Taking steps to reduce the risks associated with alcohol use and unexpected exposure can keep your holidays enjoyable and safe.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. The intensity of the effects is directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed. The amount of alcohol in an alcoholic beverage is not determined by the amount of liquid.. For instance, a 12-ounce beer may contain 5% alcohol and a typical 5-ounce glass of wine usually contains 12% alcohol. A 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor contains 40% alcohol. Mixing alcohol with other beverages does not decrease the amount of alcohol consumed. This can be deceiving and lead to lapses in judgment resulting in greater overall alcohol consumption.

Those who should not consume alcohol include: 
•    Any person younger than 21  
•    Anyone who may be pregnant 
•    Anyone who plans to operate a vehicle 
•    Anyone in recovery from alcoholism 
•    Anyone who has been told to abstain from alcohol for medical reasons, including the use of certain medications

People taking prescription or over-the-counter medication for any reason should check with their health care provider before consuming alcoholic beverages.

Small children who consume alcoholic beverages are at a much greater risk for poisoning. A two-year-old child who unintentionally consumes alcohol can experience significant central nervous system depression and low blood sugar. Children may also experience decreased breathing, seizures, coma and even death following alcohol consumption.

Alcohol continues to be the most widely abused recreational substance among people younger than 21. Underage consumption results in more than 189,000 emergency room visits and 3,500 deaths each year in the United States. Teens and adults younger than 21 are more likely to binge drink or consume four or more alcoholic beverages in a short period. Binge drinking is directly related to the high rate of alcohol poisoning among youth. Alcohol use in this demographic is associated with cognitive impairment, academic difficulties and increased risk of alcohol use disorder into adulthood. Like adults, youth should seek early help and treatment for alcohol dependence. 

Alcohol poisoning is the immediate result of excessive alcohol consumption over a short period. It is estimated that six people die each day from alcohol poisoning in the U,S. Excessive consumption of alcohol decreases brain function and can impact critical functions like breathing, heart rate, and body temperature control. Other signs of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, seizures, and the inability to wake. If anyone experiences these symptoms call 911 for emergency medical care. 

Alcohol use disorder can lead to chronic health problems. People who struggle with AUD can be at greater risk during the holiday season. People with AUD can develop the following serious health issues:

•    High blood pressure 
•    Heart disease and stroke 
•    Liver disease and digestive problems 
•    Cancer 
•    Immune deficiency 
•    Cognitive impairment 
•    Dementia 
•    Mental health and social problems

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may be available for use at holiday gatherings. Children and adults who drink hand sanitizer may develop symptoms requiring treatment in an emergency room. Keep hand sanitizers out of reach of children and others who do not understand the use of these products. Supervised use is always recommended.

If you drink, please be responsible and know your limits. If you have questions or need more information about the effects of alcohol, call 1-800-222-1222 for free, confidential, non-judgmental, expert advice or visit www.mipoisonhelp.org.

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