Alcohol Poisoning - How Much Alcohol Will Kill You

Updated on December 22, 2016
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The author's background includes law enforcement and U.S. military service. She enjoys writing about canine behavior and breeding chickens.

What Is Alcohol Poisoning?

When someone drinks too much alcohol for the body to process, alcohol poisoning can take place. When the level of alcohol reaches toxic levels, important bodily functions stop working properly and can even lead to coma or death. I guess the only good thing about this is that you won't have to worry about waking up with a hang-over the next morning...forever.

The Dangers of Binge Drinking
The Dangers of Binge Drinking | Source

Who Dies Most Often From Alcohol Poisoning?

These are the four groups of people who die as a result of alcohol poisoning more often than any other groups:

  1. The unmarrieds
  2. Those with less education
  3. Males from an ethnic minority group
  4. College-age students (primarily those in their first and second years)

Binge Drinking Kills

What Is Binge Drinking?

If you are among that group of students who consider drinking a sport, you are exactly to whom this information is directed. Some people will occasionally have a cocktail, while others drink alcohol as a regular part of socializing, even on a daily basis. However, this is about those hard partying college-age binge drinkers who deem blackouts and debilitating hangovers as a badge of honor.

For the most part, the majority of these animal-house studs live to tell the stories of the night before—the parts they can remember anyway—providing no one allowed them to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. The truth of the matter is that these alcohol warriors are simply putting their very lives in danger by continuing to test the absolute limits of the human body. Once the intake of alcohol tilts those limits from inebriation to alcohol poisoning, the whistle blows and the game is over forever.

4 Killer Facts About Binge Drinking

  1. People who have a high tolerance for alcohol are at higher risk of poisoning. Because you are able to drink more, you get closer and closer to that toxic and deadly BAC level.
  2. Adding stimulants to the mix masks the effects of alcohol, thus you can drink yourself more toxic and not even realize death is knock, knock, knocking at your door.
  3. Studies show that the characteristics associated with the highest risk factors for dying from alcohol poisoning to be: unmarried, less education, a male from an ethnic minority group, and first and second year college age students.
  4. The highest percentage of unprotected sexual activity among students is associated to alcohol binge drinking.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Why Is The Blood Alcohol Level So Important

The importance of how much alcohol is flowing through your body's blood supply is important because it can determine whether you are going to live or die. On average, a person will get into the danger zone when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) hits about 0.2. What does that mean in terms we can understand? It tells us that there is 0.2 grams of alcohol for about every 3.3 fluid ounces (deciliter) of blood charging around inside your bloodstream. Compare this to 0.08 grams—which is considered to be the legal BAC maximum to legally drive unimpaired—and it is clear where it all can go really wrong.

A BAC of 0.08

How Many Drinks Does it Take to Reach a BAC of 0.08

Having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 is just about the equivalent of drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages for a normal healthy man, or 4 or more alcoholic beverages for a normal healthy woman, within about a two hour period of time. —Center For Science in the Public Interest

Group drinking can get out of control at any age!
Group drinking can get out of control at any age! | Source

Drinking In Groups Becomes More Dangerous

When a group of people get together to really party and binge drink, the dangers of alcohol get stepped-up ten-fold. Those among the group of partiers who are trying to "keep up" with the pace of others who are pounding shot after shot, may not realize that their BAC is directly impacted by size (body mass) and gender. This explains why the 112-pound girlfriend gets blitzed much faster—and raises her BAC far more quickly—then does her 180-pound linebacker boyfriend. But don't think this big guy is out of the woods yet; as he may weigh-in at 180-pounds, but he can reach the lethal BAC of .32 by drinking twelve shots within a single hour. Sounds like a lot of booze, right? It is, however, not so unusual for binge drinkers. Many partying binge drinkers challenge one another to a game of, "who can drink the most shots in 10 minutes" which can quickly add up to more than a dozen shots over an hour of game time. Certainly enough to reach the danger zone of alcohol poisoning.

Top 10 Party Schools In The USA

(click column header to sort results)
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia
University of Mississippi
Oxford, Miss.
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, Calif.
West Virginia University
Morgantown, W. Va.
Penn State University
University Park, Pa.
Florida State University
Tallahassee, Fla.
University of Florida
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Texas
Austin, Texas
Information derived from Princeton Review’s top party schools for 2012,

A Killer Cocktail

Even the well dressed cocktail can have a killer affect!
Even the well dressed cocktail can have a killer affect! | Source

How Does High Blood Alcohol Concentration Kill You

Ethanol In Alcohol Causes Death

Here's the thing; and it is called ethanol, and it will kill you. The ethanol found in alcohol is that substance which makes perfectly brilliant students strip off their clothes and dance on tables, while at the same time reducing (inhibiting) regular brain activity. High (concentrated) amounts of ethanol in the bloodstream will affect a student's (or any one's) normal involuntary breathing functions. This is known as respiratory depression. Here's what is occurring during respiratory depression:

Stages Of Respiratory Depression Due To Alcohol Binge Drinking

  • breathing becomes shallow
  • breathing slows significantly
  • carbon dioxide builds-up in the bloodstream
  • excess carbon dioxide accumulation starts to shut down the body
  • coma ensues
  • breathing stops all together
  • death by asphyxiation occurs

You simply suffocate because your body can no longer manage to breath due to the depressed ability of your brain to communicate, and your muscles to respond. But, you probably won't even know it because you will be completely passed out from the alcohol overdose you purposely introduce to your body.

A Must-See Video About Your Brain and Alcohol

Alcohol Poisoning And The Gag Reflex

It's Good That Excess Alcohol Stops You From Gagging, Right?

When too much alcohol is consumed, another important involuntary function of the body is compromised along with the ability to breath; this function is the gag reflex. I am sure you have heard the stories about all those drunk people who were so gin-soaked that they couldn't turn over to vomit like "normal" drunk people. The fact is, this is not the case at all. What has happened is the gag reflex—the body's involuntary function that controls when to cough out or hold back vomit—has completely shut off due to toxic levels of ethanol. They could not have controlled this, even if they had turned over.

More Information About Binge Drinking

Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies: Rutgers is known nationally and internationally as a leader in alcohol research, education and training.

Center For Science In The Public Interest: Advocacy for the prevention of alcohol problems.

What You Think Really Does Matter

Do you know if your college age child binge drinks?

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Questions & Answers

    Comments for "How Much Alcohol Will Kill You"

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    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      @rebeccamealey~ It is a scary time to send your child off to school without knowing how much alcohol it takes to kill them! And, sharing information about binge drinking and the resulting alcohol poisoning it can bring may prevent a deadly outcome as well. College Freshmen seem to be at the highest risk during the hazing or other scholarly initiations that involve drinking alcohol. A little knowledge can make a big difference. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here, Rebecca! I appreciate your time.


    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Great information, especially for kids off to college! This is such valuable information. I vote this up, useful, and it certainly needs to be shared all around!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      @Sunny S~ It is a scary thing when you know exactly what's happening to your body when too much alcohol is pumping around in the bloodstream. Binge drinking is an absolute death wish in my opinion! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


      @jpcmc~ I think for those who don't have a problem with alcohol, a drink now and then is a great thing. I have a drink now and then myself. I am glad you too, are free of the pain excess alcohol can bring. Thank you for commenting.


      @Minnetonka Twin~ How nice to find you here today!! Thanks for your insightful input on binge drinking. And, just so you know, I may have played the "beat the clock" game a time or two in college myself! Hope you are well, my friend. Overjoyed to find you in the comments sections.

      Big HubHugs~

      @Mhatter99~ Wow. That sounds so intense. If you ever discover why you have become an alcohol barometer, I would definably love to read your hub about it! Thank you for sharing your story.


    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I cannot have any alcohol anymore. the doctors don't know why. If my body senses any alcohol in it, I vomit. this started in 2010

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi K9-As usual your article is spot on and full of great information. I hope that young people will read this and take it to heart. I am hearing too many stories of young people dying because of binge drinking. I will be honest: I did some binge drinking when I attended University of Wisconsin-Stout. One of the common things to do after class on Friday was to go to a bar and play, "beat the clock." Tap beer was a nickel and went up a nickel every 1/2 hour, thus, the faster you drank, the cheaper it was for a poor student. I know that many of us adults look back at some of the dangerous situations we put ourselves in and breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks for writing this informative article which can hopefully get people thinking about their drinking habits.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      It's been a while since I consumed something with alcohol. Although i drink from time to time, I never let myself reach dangerous levels.

    • Sunny_S profile image

      Sunny_S 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, this has opened my eyes. Great Hub.