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Alcohol poisoning no laughing matter

Drinking too much can lead to alcohol poisoning where your stomach has to be pumped; it can also have fatal consequences. /123rf
Drinking too much can lead to alcohol poisoning where your stomach has to be pumped; it can also have fatal consequences. /123rf

A shocking 2015 report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention showed that an average of six people die every day in the US from alcohol poisoning, and that a total of 2200 Americans die from alcohol poisoning each year.

Yet, despite these alarming statistics, a lot of people are unfamiliar with the devastating effects of alcohol poisoning.

Five young people between the ages of 18 and 26 who were asked about alcohol poisoning admitted that they did not know such a thing was a reality, with one asking: "Is it the same as your drink being spiked?"

The reality is that consumption of too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, and 28-year-old Sibulele* from Tsakane on the East Rand remembers the scare she had when her younger brother Nolwabo* was rushed to hospital in 2014 following a night of binge drinking when he was 19.

"It was a 'pens down' party, where he and his friends were celebrating having completed their matric exams. My parents didn't even know about it. He simply left the house without telling us, but he had mentioned it to me during the week.

"It was a Friday, and he left home at around 6pm in the evening and my parents and I went to bed at around 10pm.

"At around 4am in the morning he came back home assisted by a friend, and he was very intoxicated. My parents were initially upset and scolding him, but he was unresponsive and started vomiting violently. We all thought it was just the fact that he had overdone it. but he was cold to the touch. He started shivering and crying. My dad rushed him to Pholosong [hospital]."

At the hospital, her brother's stomach had to be pumped, much to her shock.

"I initially thought it was the combination of alcohol and something he had eaten. I did not know about alcohol poisoning. I was so scared. The doctor said he could have died if he was staying alone."

Nolwabo says he does not remember much about the ordeal except for waking up the next morning in hospital.

"I was not feeling well and was very embarrassed . I went home after two days, but my parents were very disappointed in me. Although I still drink alcohol, I drink a maximum of six beers and a lot of water. I really don't want to put myself in that situation again. It was a big wake-up call."

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