Six lives per day. That’s the statistic for alcohol poisoning according to the CDC. A stark warning accompanies the stat – “The more you drink, the greater your risk of death.” With two major sporting events happening in the next month, it’s an important message to hammer home. Alcohol will be flowing for both the College Football Championship and the NFL Playoffs leading to the Super Bowl.

Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. With the high levels of alcohol in your system, areas of your brain responsible for breathing, temperature and heart rate can shut down.

If you see someone with the following systems, immediately call 911

  • Inability to wake up
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.

Using the National Vital Statistics System, CDC researchers discovered most victims were male (76%). While most associate binge drinking with college students, it was actually middle-aged men under the gun. Three-quarters of deaths reported were aged 35-64.

Study co-author Dr. Robert Brewer cautions that the report likely underestimates the number of deaths, and critically points out it’s not just a problem for younger people.

“This study shows that alcohol poisoning deaths are not just a problem among young people.”

“It also emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to reducing binge drinking that includes evidence-based community strategies, screening and counseling in health care settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it.”

Binge drinking is a rising concern among health professionals. A recent study noted that 38 million American adults admit to binge drinking four times per month on average. The number of drinks consumed per binge was eight.

Those worried about alcohol poisoning can follow the CDC guidelines.

  • Avoid binge drinking. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation – up to one drink a day for women or up to two drinks a day for men
  • Avoid drinks with unknown alcohol content or mixing alcohol with energy drinks. Caffeine can mask alcohol’s effects and cause people to drink more than they intend
  • Talk to your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider if you think you may have a drinking problem, or call the national Treatment Referral Routing Service (1-800-662-HELP).

As we gear up for parties for two massive football events, pay attention to your friends. Follow the guidelines above and watch for any symptoms. Don’t let a celebration turn into a tragedy.

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