Intoxication is a common reason for visiting the emergency room due to either alcohol or drug use. Misusing these substances can lead to a crisis situation, and it is important to seek emergency medical services as soon as possible. If you or someone you love needs help because of intoxication, then the best thing you can do is visit the nearest emergency room right away.
Warning Signs of an Overdose
Every person should learn about overdose warning signs to know when medical support is needed. The overdose signs vary depending on the substance that was used and the severity of the impairment. Potential signs that a person overdosed on drugs include:
- Difficult, shallow, or erratic breathing
- Not breathing
- Bluish lips or fingernails
- Slow heart rate
- Severe stomach pain
- Chest pain
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Awake, but unresponsive
- Limp body
- Clammy or pale skin
Warning Signs of Alcohol Intoxication
While alcohol is a legal substance for adults over the age of 21, alcohol is a substance that can be abused and lead to serious health concerns. One of the immediate problems is drinking too much in a short amount of time, potentially leading to alcohol poisoning.
This condition is serious and requires medication treatment. Symptoms vary depending on the stage of intoxication, and could include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Unable to be awakened
- Loss of coordination
- Low body temperature
- Inability to stand or walk
- Pale or blue-tinged skin
- Impaired breathing
Intoxication Services in an Emergency Room
If someone is experiencing drug or alcohol intoxication, then it is best to seek medical services immediately.
As soon as the person arrives in the emergency department, the staff will begin treatment to stabilize the patient. A nurse will assess the condition and the severity of the symptoms, and then the doctors will follow specific protocols for treatment. The timing of treatment and urgency of the services depends on the person’s condition, with life-threatening problems always addressed first.
Alcohol and drug intoxication can be categorized into these levels of severity:
- Level 1: Immediate emergency with life-threatening symptoms
- Level 2: The situation could become life-threatening without urgent treatment
- Level 3: Treatment is urgent, but the patient’s life is not in danger
- Level 4: The situation is somewhat urgent, but not life-threatening
- Level 5: The patient needs medical attention when time allows
If the overdose is due to an opioid drug, such as prescription painkillers or heroin, then naloxone can be administered to block and reverse the effects of opioids. Often, emergency protocol is to administer medications that counteract the effects of the drugs that were used: stimulants are administered when the overdose is due to a sedative drug, and depressants are administered when the overdose is due to a stimulant.
Information for the Emergency Staff
When visiting the emergency room, you can optimize the outcome of the treatment by providing as much information as possible about the patient and the circumstances. For example, if you found medication bottles or illicit drugs nearby, then bring these items to the emergency room to share the details about the event.
Describe the problems in full. Holding back information could have a negative impact on the medical treatment that is provided. Here is an overview of the information you can provide to help the doctors and nurses assess the emergency and treat the patient:
- Specific substances that were used (if known)
- How much was used
- Any existing health problems
- Medical history, including family health history
- Any allergies
- Current pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Any other facts that could be useful
Ongoing Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Not only do emergency personnel provide immediate support to mitigate the urgent concern about the person’s health, but it is also important to assess alcohol and substance abuse disorders to help the patient with long-term recovery.
Receiving these life-saving treatments is only the first step to save a person’s life. Continued care and medical support are needed to prevent the continued use of these harmful substances. While it is important to treat the immediate overdose, it is just as essential to provide the patient with rehabilitative resources to help them overcome the problem.
Emergency Room for Intoxication
At iCare ER and Urgent Care, we have the experience to provide emergency care for drug and alcohol intoxication. Our clinic offers both urgent care and emergency services in one location, giving you access to the specific level of medical care required for each situation. Walk-ins are welcome 24/7, or you can call ahead. We offer two clinics in Frisco and Fort Worth: (214) 407-8668.