medical question - blood alcohol result

This is obviously not a quest for medical advice, but help on a mystery. I’ve had a friend over for the last two days and pretty much been with him the whole time. Yesterday he had stuffy nose, sore throat, and felt bad so took some theraflu and went to sleep around 5PM. I happened into the room he was in a couple of times, and he was asleep. He got up briefly around 10:30 acting a little too happy, and then went back to bed. I didn’t see him again until I heard him at 1:00 am. He was sick as hell throwing up all over the place with feces all over the room, disoriented and making no sense. I took him to the ER, and they said he had a blood alcohol level of .314! As far as I know there is no alcohol in the house. I never saw him drink. He says he didn’t drink, and he wouldn’t lie about it. I saw no signs of drinking (bottles, glasses, etc). So how in the hell did he register such a HIGH b.a.c?? Can you get alcohol in the blood without injesting it? I understand those test to by very accurate, but neither one of us can explain how it happened.

Earlier in the day, he thought it was the previous day, but I put it down to his feeling out of it. Also, looking back, he was acting drunk when he woke up at 1:00 am, but it didn’t even occur to me that that was the problem. Indeed if I had known he was drunk I wouldn’t have taken him to the ER because he was fully conscious and all. Good thing I did though because .314 is dangerously high. Also, the treatment was the fluids, vitamins, etc. and nausea medicine they give to highly intoxicated people, and it worked. So I think he did have alcohol in his system. I just don’t know how it got there and why it was so high.

If I were a betting man, I would say your friend secretly chugged a full bottle of vodka, got slammed, then puked and shit all over your home, and has been lying to both you and the ER staff ever since.

That’s certainly the way the evidence points, but he has no reason to lie to me about it. We’ve been through a lot together, so it’s not like he would lie just to escape “responsibility” for the mess–it’s really no big deal–he had to clean it up either way, and I was laughing at him. And he seemed absolutely surprised when they told him that. But yes, unless I hear some sort of reasonable alternative explanation, that’s what I’ll have to believe.

Let me just say that you sound like a very understanding, concerned friend.

Your buddy is lucky to have you in his corner.

Was he also taking Nyquil? In my day, it was 50 proof.

He took one shot of Theraflu which has a little bit of ETOH, but that’s not nearly enough obviously for a .314. And the bottle is still sitting on the counter almost full. And he didn’t eat or drink anything weird over the two days.

I just think a person who got all the way to .314 would go through a period of hell raising and be pretty obvious. And would at least be too drunk to not leave a bottle laying around, or spill some, or something. But nothing. I even looked around the room he was in and found no evidence of drinking. It’s like he somehow got wasted while asleep.

Hmmm…while the lying option seems most likely, people can do strange things in their sleep. It sounds feasible that he was sleep-drinking.

But I really do want to know what’s up because if he is indeed somehow sneaking (very successfully) enough alcohol to get that wasted, and lying to me about it, he’s in trouble and I need to help him. Likewise, if he’s somehow metabolizing something else into alcohol (if that’s possible)then he needs to get that looked into by a doc. (At the ER, they said he probably drank it and just doesn’t remember it, but that explanation didn’t really seem to jibe with the facts; it seemed like they ignored what we were saying and went for the easy conclusion.)

ETA–we considered some sort of sleep walking scenario, but there’s no evidence of drinking, and I know he was in the room the whole time because I was awake.

What about mouthwash? People drink it for alcohol. Listerine is 43 proof.

I’m trying to see this logically. He had a high blood alcohol level. Therefore he consumed alcohol. His behavior at 1:00 a.m and then later indicates that he was drunk. He does not recall drinking alcohol. How clearly does he recall his actions prior to going to bed? Is it possible he knocked back a pint of vodka and now just doesn’t recall it? It sounds like he had enough alcohol to have caused a memory gap.

The alcohol got into him somehow. The options seem pretty limited.

This is really my question. Does the b.a.c absolutely mean he drank? Sounds like you say yes. How sure are you? (No offense. You are probably right. But the circumstances are just so odd. And the reading is way more than pint.) I guess to be in board form I should ask for a cite that rules out any other alternative.

Also: I checked the mouthwash. None taken.

Not absolutely (answered in “board form”). You aren’t asking for a cite that ethanol raises your ethanol level, are you?

Anyway, rectal instillation or intravenous injection of ethanol could have raised your associate’s blood ethanol level as well.
This seems less likely than an oral route, however, and there are no other possibilities. An incorrect laboratory result is possible, although not likely.

A BAC of 0.3% is quite elevated. For medications that contain ethanol, there would likely be significant side effects from the associated drugs if one consumed enough to raise a BAC to 0.3.

Not a medical person, but the only thing I could think about when reading the OP was my brother-in-law who was a closet alcoholic. He’d chug hard alcohol when no one else was around/looking, and ended up nearly killing his liver.

I’ve been around a bunch of drunks. Hell, even been drunk a few times myself. Never, ever, seen that. :confused:

Was there feces all over the room because he was giving himself a vodka enema? (serious question)

I would like to believe that your friend somehow ate or drank something that didn’t contain alcohol but that would raise his BAC, but I couldn’t find any way of that happening. In my earlier post, I was just trying to point out that the alcohol got into him somehow.

You know this guy, and the whole incident seems so foreign to your experience of who he is that it just seems impossible. Also, as you say, you can’t find any empty bottles that would suggest he drank anything. What I was trying to do was start with the facts: he had a high BAC. False lab results? Well, there’s the weird behavior, and the vomiting and fecal matter that support the lab results. If the lab results weren’t off, then he must have got alcohol into his system somehow.

What I was wondering in the earlier post is if it were possible for him to have somehow consumed so much alcohol a little earlier in the evening that he had a memory lapse and couldn’t recall drinking that much alcohol. It was the only means of blending what you and your friend experienced and what the lab tests showed.

I hope he’s all right now.

I am assuming that they did more than one blood alcohol level at the hospital, which demonstrated a diminishing BAC. If not, it is conceivable that the first test was from someone else and the result a lab error. Since that is very unlikely, the only explanation is that he did consume like a fifth of hard liquor and is now lying about it. There is no other way a BAC of that magnitude can be achieved.

Did they do a blood draw or breathalyzer to determine his BAC at the hospital? I would assume blood draw, but maybe not. It appears that breathalyzers can have some cross sensitivity to other substances in the breath.

When I worked in the clinical laboratory many decades ago a BAC of that level would have immediately resulted in the test being repeated on the same specimen and on a second specimen requested by the laboratory. A “normal” “control” would be run. We would have first suspected contamination and these measures would eliminate that suspicion and suggest something in the patients blood was causing these results.