The coroner’s report finally came back last week with Amy Winehouse’s cause of death at age 27 this July and it turns out she drank herself to death in one binge, an extreme behavior that happens on college campuses all over the world. It’s called alcohol poisoning, and it kills indiscriminately.
Amy’s widely documented use of drugs and alcohol seemed excessive even for an addict. Even though she reportedly was off hard drugs for a while, she continued to drink heavily. Family, friends, and fans worried for years if her excessive alcohol intact was doing damage to her liver and other internal organs, but in the end she didn’t die from any disease she got from having a run-down body. She died from excessive intake in one session, which can easily and quickly kill anyone whether or not it’s your first time with alcohol, or if you’ve been boozing for years. (Although if you’ve been boozing for years, you liver may have a harder time metabolizing the alcohol, which could lead to alcohol poisoning more quickly.)
What is alcohol poisoning, and how many drinks does it take to kill?
Police found 3 empty vodka bottles in Amy’s room, and she reportedly had a blood alcohol level of .40. A level of .30 can lead to death, and even. .25 is a serious concern and needs immediate medical attention.
The key to alcohol poisoning is the rate in which the alcohol is consumed. Alcohol is a poison, and it’s pleasurable effects are a result of “intoxication.” A little bit of intoxication is fun and relatively safe, but the more you drink, the harder the alcohol is on your body and your brain, and the harder your liver has to work to metabolize the alcohol. If you put too much alcohol in your body and your liver is unable to keep up, your blood alcohol rises and the alcohol in your blood begins to affect your central nervous system. This results in lowered blood pressure, respiration depression, lowered temperature, loss of consciousness, coma, and death, according to the CDC. Alcohol at that level also impairs the gag reflex, preventing you from vomiting up the excess alcohol. In short, the alcohol numbs and depresses your body until it stops breathing and functioning.
That’s pretty scary stuff, and it currently results in about 50,000 deaths a year in the U.S. Most people don’t come close to immediate death when they get bleary eyed (except, of course, situational consequences from having your sensory and judgment organs impaired,) but in case you want to make sure you stay well within the “safe” limit, click here to see a nifty chart of the amount of drinks you need to have in the course of an hour to reach certain blood alcohol levels. (Also to note, driving in the U.S. driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more will get you arrested!)
According to this chart, if we assume Amy was about 100 lbs, she had to have at about 8 drinks (or shots) in the course of an hour to get the BAC that led to her death.
Keep Amy and this chart in mind when you imbibe this Halloween weekend!