Drunkenness means being intoxicated by alcohol. This means a person's brain and body are not working normally, because of the alcohol they have had. A person who is intoxicated is usually called drunk.
The effects of being drunk depend on how much alcohol a person has had to drink.
Alcohol causes the mind and body to not work normally.
In low amounts, alcohol often causes good feelings, reddened skin, and feeling relaxed. People who drink small amounts of alcohol may feel less nervous about being around others. Even in small amounts, alcohol slows down the brain. It starts to affect a person's judgment - their ability to make good decisions. It also makes a person react more slowly and have slower reflexes. This is why it is not safe to drive even after drinking just a little.
In medium amounts, alcohol will cause trouble speaking clearly and moving the body normally. A person may have trouble staying balanced and walking normally. They may get confused or very tired. They will not be able to make good decisions. They may also start vomiting.
When a person drinks a dangerous amount of alcohol, they can get alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency. "Alcohol poisoning" means that a person has drunk enough alcohol to cause a coma, dangerously slow breathing, or even death. A person with alcohol poisoning needs emergency medical treatment at a hospital to make sure they do not die from alcohol poisoning.
Signs and symptoms
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- Being very confused and almost unconscious
- Going into a coma
- Vomiting while in a coma. If this happens, the person can breathe the vomit into their lungs. This can burn and injure the lungs so badly that the person can die
- Very slow breathing. If a person's breathing gets slow enough, the person can die
- Very slow heart rate
- Low body temperature
- If the person wakes up, they will not be able to remember what happened. This is called a "blackout."
A first aider SHOULD:
- Lay the person down and try to keep them still
- Turn the person on their side
- Cover them with a blanket to keep them warm
- If the person has a seizure, do not try to hold them still. Do try to keep them from hitting their head
- If the person's heart stops, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation. An emergency medical dispatcher can explain how to do this
A first aider should NOT:
- Leave the person alone
- Give them anything to eat or drink
- Give the person any medications or illegal drugs
- Make them throw up
- Put the person in a cold shower or bath
- Make the person walk. Walking is not safe for a person with alcohol poisoning
There are many myths (untrue beliefs) about drunkenness. Here are some examples of myths about drunkenness:
- Some people can drive safely while they are drunk
- Drinking coffee will make a person less drunk
- Taking a cold shower or bath will make a person less drunk
- Some types of alcohol make a person more drunk than others
Images for kids
Drunkenness Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.