Different stages of intoxication and their dangers

Life is very precious gift, yet human beings, voluntarily or involuntarily try to diminish their quality of life in every possible way. Life today has many strains and stresses and instead of coping with our stress in a practical and productive way, we use alcohol, marijuana and other drugs to ease the discomfort. These drugs only help temporarily, but, obviously won’t change the reality of life and makes things worse if abused. By taking different intoxicants, instead of helping us to deal with stress, they reduce our ability and resilience make the right decisions. The people who think getting drunk or high makes them happy are living in a fool’s paradise.

Intoxication can vary in intensity, which depends on amount of alcohol consumed. As a result, different levels of intoxication are classified by researchers into different stages.

What is intoxication?

Intoxication means diminishment of physical and psychological processes that results in abnormal behavior and decreased mental acuity. When someone talks about intoxication, it generally refers to being drunk, or high.

A person’s physical and mental abilities are impaired due to the depression of the nervous system, impaired motor skills, impaired cognition and other factors.  Alcohol is general term for Ethanol, an intoxicant which is produced by the process of fermentation of different food starches, most commonly by corn.

How Does Alcohol causes intoxication?

Our behavior is controlled by different chemicals, called neurotransmitters (because they transmit information between neurons and are released from neurons) found in the brain. Some of these chemicals have an inhibiting effect and others stimulate our behaviors. The elements in alcohol targets an inhibitory neurotransmitter called as GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) that results in diminished mental and behavioral processes. This works progressively, the more we consume alcohol more impaired our physical and mental functions will become.

Symptoms of Intoxication

There are hundreds of physical and mental symptoms, some obvious and some not so obvious. The number of symptoms is directly proportional to amount of alcohol used. The level of intoxication is measured through BAC (blood Alcohol concentration) which is the percentage of alcohol in your bloodstream. Some common symptoms are:


  • Impairment of social function, euphoria, excessive talking, meaningless speech etc.
  • Ataxia or trouble keeping your body upright
  • Impaired judgement, slurred speech, and loss of memory
  • Vomiting, disorientation, and confusion
  • Some people can enter an alcoholic coma if they drink enough
  • Lastly, shutdown of the respiratory centers in the brain causing death is possible

Stages of Intoxication

Intoxication can differ according to the level of alcohol in bloodstream. Experts have differentiated alcohol intoxication into following stages according to your BAC ( Blood Alcohol Concentration) levels.

Stage 1

The first stage of alcohol intoxication is called subclinical stage. In this stage, the behavior of a person is normal and the effects of the alcohol are not obvious. In this stage, the BAC can vary from 0.01 to 0.05%. In this stage, there is no danger.

Stage 2

This stage is known as euphoric phase of intoxication, characterized by euphoria and high levels of pleasure. In this stage, a person’s behavior can be recognized by excessive talkativeness, increased confidence levels and increased sociability. As drinking continues, other symptoms like attention span, and reduced motor skills are present. In this stage, the BAC can vary from 0.03 to 0.12%.

Stage 3

This stage is also called the excitement stage, as there is increase in the instability of emotions, increased impairment, lack of judgement and self-control and an increase in reaction time (the time between environmental stimulus and person’s response). In this stage, there are visible impairments in vision and speech. Other problematic effects are impaired sensory-motor coordination, impaired balance, vomiting, nausea and drowsiness, and the person can either become passive and silent or extremely argumentative. In this stage, the BAC can vary from 0.01 0.09 and 0.25%.

Stage 4

This stage is called the confusion stage as there is increased mental confusion, disorientation and exaggeration of emotions. In this stage, anxiety and restlessness are found and stimulate emotions such as excessive fear, phobia, grief, and panic. There is a further increase in muscle incoordination and problems with vision and perception can be found along with vertigo. In this stage, the BAC can vary from 0.18 to 0.34%.

Stage 5

This stage is known as a stupor stage, because a person can go into a state of unconsciousness. The stage is marked by further decreased response to stimuli, muscle incoordination, loss of control of their bladder and stool. In this stage, the BAC can vary 0.25 to 0.40%.

Stage 6

This stage is characterized by the BAC level varying between 0.35 to 0.50%. That is quite alarming level. At this BAC level a person goes into complete state of unconsciousness or coma. The impairment is so severe that the respiration and circulation systems basically shut down and skin is cold.

Stage 7

The final stage of intoxication where a person’s BAC level exceeds 0.45% Generally people in this stage die from cardiac arrest. Alcohol affects different people in different ways, so the stated BAC levels of each stage can vary slightly.

Heaving drinking can lead to alcoholism. Thankfully, it is treatable with the help of a variety of different techniques that are available at an alcohol abuse center or drug addiction center.  If you find yourself drinking a lot, do not hesitate to get help.

Categories: Health

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