The Difference Between a Hangover and Alcohol Poisoning


You’ve had a long week. As the workweek fades, your plans for the weekend start developing. 

You’ve decided on a night out on the town with friends for some drinks. Your plan of “having a few beers” goes from three to more than you can count. Late nights like this lead to a morning full of regret. But what is the difference between a hangover and alcohol poisoning?

Knowing which you’re suffering from can save you a trip to the doctor and relieve some stress. When the morning arrives, know what’s going on before it gets worse. 

What is a Hangover?

If you’ve drunk enough to experience one, a hangover is a common occurrence when consuming high levels of alcohol. Although it feels life-threatening to some, a hangover is not something you should be overly concerned with.

A hangover comes with a few unpleasant symptoms that could resemble alcohol poisoning. However, they’re usually not as severe. 

The symptoms of a hangover include:

  • Splitting headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth and increased thirst
  • Sensitivity to light/sound
  • Dizziness/shakiness

These symptoms are due to the plummeting of your alcohol levels from the night before. The body will react with these withdrawal symptoms and couple it with general symptoms of dehydration.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Avoiding alcohol poisoning is simple — don’t drink. 

Although this isn’t the easiest option, there are others. If you’re concerned you or a friend is suffering from alcohol poisoning there are a few things you should pay attention to. 

The main difference between alcohol poisoning and a hangover is alcohol poisoning symptoms come around when the individual is still drinking. Excessive drinking or binge drinking throughout a night leads to an overwhelming amount of symptoms. 

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include: 

  • Copious vomiting
  • Irregular breathing
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Pale skin
  • Chills or low temperature
  • Unconsciousness

Individuals who experience alcohol poisoning would consider themselves lucky to experience only these symptoms. One of the most common causes of death is due to alcohol poisoning. Death can occur with the loss of a gag reflex due to intoxication and the individual suffocating on their vomit.

The severity of alcohol poisoning and hangovers are not alike. You will likely know the difference if you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. If you are drinking that much you likely need rehab, New Leaf Detox and Treatment provides luxury Rehab in California.

Differences in Treatment

Considering the level of symptoms, treatment for hangovers and alcohol poisoning are much different. Hangover treatment is a simple fix that can all be relayed back to hydration. Pumping your body full of Gatorade or Pedialyte solutions will help replenish the electrolytes your body needs to recover. 

Although there’s no guaranteed “cure”, time will heal a hangover. Time will not help alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning requires immediate attention. A trip to the emergency room is not unheard of when it comes to excessive drinking. 

If they’re intoxicated enough, the individual’s vitals will be monitored to ensure they’re breathing. Call an ambulance at the first signs of alcohol poisoning. Oxygen therapy and I.V. fluids will likely be administered to prevent more severe symptoms. 

If the individual requires further assistance, a full stomach pump can help evacuate additional alcohol from the system. This type of treatment could save a life. 

Ways to Avoid Alcohol Poisoning

You don’t have to completely cut off drinking to avoid alcohol poisoning, but it’s a quick solution. 

A general rule of thumb when you’re drinking is rotating a glass of water between alcoholic drinks to make sure you’re staying hydrated. This will also slow down the process of intoxication so you don’t get ahead of yourself. 

Moderation is a good way to remind yourself to limit drinks. However, if you’re planning on drinking, make sure you’re hydrated throughout the day beforehand and eating a full meal either before or during alcohol intake. 

These concepts will also save you from a hangover. 

In all cases, you want to look after someone who’s drinking too much. Keeping tabs on your friends can save a life. Common symptoms you should be aware of are slurred speech and the decline of motor functions. 

Cut off your friend from additional alcoholic drinks if you’re noticing a trend towards drinking in excess. 

Concerns of Underage Drinking

Younger people are often the age bracket that is most concerned with alcohol abuse and poisoning. If you don’t have experience with alcohol, odds are you won’t know how it affects you.

Underage drinking happens. Although it may seem worrisome to call 911 as an underage individual, your rights are protected. 

Thanks to the Good Samaritan law that is enforced in most states, if an underage individual calls the authorities to help a friend, that person won’t be susceptible to the fallout of an underage law. 

There’s a difference between having a few drinks with friends and drinking so much there’s a concern of alcoholic poisoning. Make use of you’re doing what you can to keep avoiding alcohol poisoning and the result of drinking too much. 

Struggling With Alcohol? Call Us

Dealing with alcohol abuse can be a tricky situation. When you drink excessively you’re putting yourself at risk for alcohol poisoning and even death. 

Before things get worse, reach out for help. 

New Leaf Detox is an addiction treatment and wellness center. Our addiction treatment facility in San Juan Capistrano gives individuals a chance to fully recover from psychological and chemical dependency. 

We’re focused on treating the physical and mental causes of addiction. No matter what challenges you may be facing, treatment can help. If you’re looking to live a more fulfilled life and recovery effectively, reach out today. You’re only a phone call away from curbing an addiction that could turn your life down the wrong path.