Substance Poisoning – 5 Common Types and How to Avoid It



  • Based on a study by the NIH, there has been a growth in the number of pesticide poisoning cases over the years.
  • Alcohol poisoning is a critical health condition that occurs on excessive consumption of alcohol in a short period.
  • Accidental poisoning can happen to anyone, and it is imperative to know what types of poisonings are common so you can avoid them better.

Substance poisoning happens when a toxic substance is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed into the body in amounts that the body cannot resist. According to the National Institute of Health, the number of deaths caused by drug overdose has seen an upward trend. However, It is not necessary to be involved in substance abuse to be affected by substance poisoning. Toxic substances and chemicals are everywhere, from cleaning products to pesticides to industrial chemicals and even medicines. The demographic most vulnerable to substance poisoning are toddlers and young children, as they are prone to put things in their mouths.

Based on the substance, amount and the person, the symptoms of substance poisoning can vary. Some common symptoms are nausea, dizziness, abdominal pain, seizures and weakness. Sometimes, the signs may not be immediately visible, as some toxins take time to absorb in the body. It is best never to take chances with any substance poisoning and seek immediate medical attention.

Common Types of Substance Poisoning

Accidental poisoning can happen to anyone, and it is imperative to know what types of poisonings are common so you can avoid them better. Here are the five most common types of substance poisoning:

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a critical health condition that occurs on excessive consumption of alcohol in a short period. Alcohol is an intoxicant that slows down the function of the brain and the heart. Excessive quantities can slow their process to such an extent that it may halt altogether. Severe alcohol poisoning can put a person in a comatose state, and in extreme cases, death may occur. Confusion, drowsiness, vomiting, unconsciousness and seizures are common alcohol poisoning symptoms. If you suspect anyone has alcohol poisoning, never assume that they will feel better after sleep.

When you seek professional help, treatment for alcohol poisoning may include activated charcoal to absorb the toxins from the stomach, dialysis and intravenous fluids.

Cocaine Poisoning

Cocaine is an illegal drug that stimulates one’s senses by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. Like other drugs, cocaine can cause severe poisoning if its quantity exceeds a specific limit. Too much cocaine can increase heart rate and blood pressure to a dangerously high level. Cases of cocaine poisoning can lead to heart attacks, strokes or even death.

Other than the common symptoms of substance poisoning, cocaine poisoning can cause chest pain, hallucinations, paranoia and severe anxiety. Treatment for cocaine poisoning includes oxygen therapy and regulation of blood pressure and heart rate through medications and benzodiazepines to calm the person down.

Inhalant Poisoning

Inhaling a toxic substance can also cause severe poisoning. While some people inhale certain chemicals for their intoxicating effect, some people get poisoned unintentionally. People who inhale for intoxication usually do this by inhaling the scent of glue, paint thinner and aerosol sprays. Inhalant poisoning can directly affect the brain and damage other organs in the body, too.

Other than the typical symptoms of poisoning, like dizziness and nausea, inhalant poisoning also causes headaches. Treatment for inhalant poisoning includes oxygen therapy, anti-seizure medication and strict monitoring of the vital signs.

Amphetamine Poisoning

The first thing to come to your mind when talking about amphetamine poisoning is methamphetamine abuse. But there are more ways someone can succumb to it. Amphetamines are drugs that increase your alertness and improve your energy levels and mood. Other than the illegal drug meth, you can also get amphetamine poisoning from excessive intake of prescribed Adderall or Ritalin.

Amphetamine poisoning can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, just like cocaine poisoning. This leads to similar symptoms of angina, paranoia and hallucinations on top of typical poisoning symptoms. Treatment includes heart rate and blood pressure regulation through medicines, oxygen therapy, benzodiazepines and strict vitals monitoring.

Pesticide Poisoning

This may not cross many people’s minds when talking about poisoning, but pesticide poisoning is one of the most common types. Based on a study by the NIH, there has been a growth in the number of pesticide poisoning cases over the years.

Pesticides are chemicals sprayed over fruits and vegetables to protect them from pests. They depend on their toxic nature to repel insects and fungi and can severely affect humans if exposed. Pesticides can poison you through ingestion, inhalation and absorption through your skin.

The amount of pesticide absorbed and its type determines the symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, weakness and confusion, among typical poisoning symptoms. Treatment includes activated charcoal, dialysis and specific medications.

How to Avoid Substance Poisoning

There are some general guidelines you can follow to reduce the threat of substance poisoning and specific guidelines you need to follow for each substance. Below, we will cover both.

General Guidelines

All toxic and poisonous substances should be kept out of reach of children. Invest in baby-proofing gadgets to ensure your young ones don’t get a hold of any dangerous items. Follow all the product labels and directions carefully. Do not put a poisonous substance in a container without a proper tag. Finally, dispose of the substance responsibly and check in with your local waste management company.

Specific Guidelines

Alcohol: Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach, and drink plenty of water before you go out to drink. Furthermore, it is important to follow steps to ensure you stay within limits with your alcohol intake.

Inhalants: If it is non-negotiable for you to be around such chemicals, work in a well-ventilated area to avoid unintentional inhalation.

Amphetamine: Make sure you always follow the guidelines of your healthcare provider. Never exceed the recommended dose, and read the labels on your medicines carefully.

Pesticide Poisoning: If you handle pesticides regularly, use protective equipment like a mask, gloves and safety goggles. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after using pesticides.

Seek Help for Your Addiction

It is no news that drug abuse is a real problem, and a large number of substance poisoning cases stem from drug overdose. If you are addicted to a substance, it is best if you realize its detriments timely and start changing your life for the better. It is never okay to indulge in drug use. Drug use can disrupt your whole life, causing health, social and financial distress. Get help to overcome your addiction as soon as possible!

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