Symptoms and Signs of Alcohol Intoxication

Doctor's Notes on Alcohol Intoxication

Alcohol intoxication occurs when a person consumes quantities of alcohol that result in impairment of mental and physical abilities. Alcohol levels can also be measured in the blood and most states have specific levels of alcohol intoxication at which the driving of a motor vehicle is forbidden.

Symptoms of alcohol intoxication vary widely from person to person and may be affected by prior experience with alcohol, taking medications, certain medical conditions, and blood alcohol concentration. Symptoms of alcohol intoxication may start with loss of emotional restraint, vivaciousness, feeling of warmth, flushing, mild impairment in judgment, slight slurring of speech, loss of control of fine motor movements, confusion when faced with tasks requiring thinking, emotional instability, and inappropriate laughter. As blood alcohol levels rise, symptoms of alcohol intoxication progress to very slurred speech, staggering gait, double vision, lethargy but able to be aroused by voice, difficulty sitting upright in a chair, memory loss, stupor (though able to be aroused only briefly by strong physical stimulus (such as a face slap or deep pinch), and deep snoring. At high blood alcohol levels symptoms of alcohol intoxication include coma, incontinence, low blood pressure, and irregular breathing. Excessively high blood alcohol levels may result in death.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.