Can alcohol save you from death

Noise amplifier What makes alcohol dangerous

First the facts: Every 20th death worldwide is caused by alcohol. According to a WHO study, more people die each year from alcohol consumption than from AIDS, violence and traffic accidents combined. Mostly men - they account for three quarters of alcohol-related deaths. This also includes deaths that are specifically linked to alcohol abuse, such as cirrhosis of the liver and some types of cancer.

Intoxication alone is not fatal

Alcohol researcher Maik Spreer from the TU Dresden states that it doesn't die so easily from a mere intoxication. The addiction expert at the university hospital adds up all the factors that can make alcohol a quick killer:

That depends on many factors, for example the additional consumption. Have drugs or other intoxicating substances been taken before or in addition to alcohol? Are there any physical illnesses? Clinically, for the diagnosis of alcohol poisoning, the consciousness, the perception, the emotions must be disturbed, or physical failure symptoms occur.

Maik Spreer

This means that the effects of heavy alcohol consumption can be intensified by medication or drugs; a weakened heart is less able to cope with the nerve toxin alcohol than a healthy one. An experienced drinker "can tolerate" more than an inexperienced one. Other factors are height and weight. Basically, however, alcohol initially works in the head, says Maik Spreer:

Alcohol changes the way information is transmitted between nerve cells. It changes the neurotransmitters, the messenger substances that transmit stimuli from one nerve cell to another. Alcohol increases the inhibition of the brain. The more I drink, the more inhibited my brain is.

Maik Spreer

So when we feel really uninhibited, we have really paralyzed our brains. This detachment makes reaching for the next glass all the easier - a fatal vicious circle. Alcohol itself only works in the brain, but its breakdown by enzymes damages the entire body. Once it is in the blood, its toxic effects can unfold to the full, because there is no antidote such as a spider's bite. It is therefore important that the environment should keep a clear head, advises expert Spreer from the Dresden University Hospital:

There are a few clues. For example, if you are hypothermic, if breathing or pulse irregularities occur, if consciousness is disturbed, if the pupils are dilated or unresponsive, if the person is barely responsive, tremors violently or sweats: then you should alert the emergency services or the emergency doctor.

Maik Spreer

It is better, however, if it does not get that far in the first place. Alcohol ban at major events? Alcohol researcher Maik Spreer thinks better education. That means: drink alcohol only in moderation and never consume it together with medication or other drugs.