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Dangers of binge drinking

November 20, 2012
The Daily News

Just in time for one of the "biggest bar nights of the year," the Michigan Liquor Control Commission is reminding bar and party goers about the dangers and side effects of binge drinking.

Students who have returned home from college; co-workers having a cocktail after work; friends getting together before turkey day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally the biggest bar night of the year.

It's a good time to meet friends, but it's not a good time to drink too much.

Binge drinking occurs when a man consumes five or more drinks or a woman consumes four or more drinks in a short period of time.

Because women metabolize alcohol less efficiently than men and usually have less body mass, they become more intoxicated with a comparable number of drinks. (One drink is generally calculated as a 12 oz. bottle of beer or wine cooler, a 5 oz glass of wine or 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits.)

"People who are not big drinkers, or abusive drinkers, who go out and celebrate this way are the ones that will get sick or have alcohol poisoning," said Andy Deloney, Chairman of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC).

"The MLCC wants to make sure our citizens are aware of the dangers of binge drinking and the effects that it has on the body," Deloney said in a statement.

Alcohol poisoning occurs when the alcohol content in a person's blood increases to the point where it slows down the normal functioning of the brain and how it communicates with other parts of the body.

For example, a fatal dose of alcohol can stop the brain's ability to control involuntary actions, such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking).

With the absence of these vital functions, a drunk person who passes out can choke on their own vomit and die.

Signs of alcohol poisoning

A person experiencing alcohol poisoning may display the following signs and symptoms:

- Mental confusion, slurred speech, or unconsciousness.

- Inability to be woken up.

- Absence of reflexes.

- Continuous or excessive vomiting.

- Seizures.

- Slow, shallow, or irregular breathing.

- Low body temperature, paleness, or bluish skin color.

- Unpredictable behavior.

What you can do to help

If you believe that a person may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, you can help in the following ways:

- Know and recognize the danger signs and symptoms.

- Take action immediately.

- Be aware that a person who has passed out could die.

- Don't leave the person unattended.

- Try to keep the person awake.

- Sit the person up, or roll them on his/her side to prevent choking on vomit.

- Call 911. Don't attempt to treat the person yourself.

- Monitor the person's pulse and breathing until the ambulance arrives.

- If trained, perform CPR if necessary.

- Remember, a person with alcohol poisoning just can't sleep it off.

"We want all Michigan citizens and visitors to have a happy holiday season, so please drink responsibly," said Deloney.



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