Alcohol intoxication, also known as drunkenness or alcohol poisoning, is the negative behavior and physical effects due to the recent drinking of ethanol (alcohol). Symptoms at lower doses may include mild sedation and poor coordination. At higher doses, there may be slurred speech, trouble walking, and vomiting. Extreme doses may result in a decreased effort to breathe (respiratory depression), coma, or death. Complications may include seizures, aspiration pneumonia, injuries including suicide, and low blood sugar.
Alcohol intoxication typically begins after two or more alcoholic drinks. Risk factors include a social situation where heavy drinking is common and a person having an impulsive personality. Diagnosis is usually based on the history of events and physical examination. Verification of events by the people a person was with may be useful. Legally, alcohol intoxication is often defined as a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than 5.4-17.4 mmol/L (25–80 mg/dL or 0.025-0.080%). This can be measured by blood or breath testing. Alcohol is broken down in human body at a rate of about 3.3 mmol/L (15 mg/dL) per hour.
Management of alcohol intoxication involves supportive care. Typically this includes putting the person in the recovery position, keeping them warm, and making sure they are breathing sufficiently. Gastric lavage and activated charcoal have not been found to be useful. Repeated assessments may be required to rule out other potential causes of a person's symptoms.
Alcohol intoxication is very common, especially in the Western world. Most people who drink alcohol have at some time been intoxicated. In the United States acute intoxication directly results in about 2,200 deaths per year, and indirectly more than 30,000 deaths per year. Acute intoxication has been documented throughout history and alcohol remains one of the world's most widespread recreational drugs. Some religions consider alcohol intoxication to be a sin.