Officer, I'm Not Drunk: Diseases and Illnesses That Mimic Intoxication (2023)

  • Wellness
  • April 11, 2016

It’s not fair.

There are times when you feel a little “off,” but you haven’t had anything to drink. What could it be? People don’t believe you when you say you’re not drunk, but it’s the truth. Fortunately, you’re not crazy. There are very specific illnesses that can mimic intoxication. Get to the doctor immediately to get tested and to rule out other possibilities:


Diabetes is a condition in which you have trouble controlling your blood sugar. A person who has diabetes may look fine, but may also not look fine. In fact, when blood sugar drops, the person may feel very different – may even feel drunk or slightly intoxicated. The signs and symptoms range from mild to severe.

Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP, LA criminal defense lawyers, can help you if you’ve been accused of driving while intoxicated even when you weren’t. If you have diabetes, you may not be guilty of any crime, even if you were swerving on the road.

Generally, the warning signs include:

  • A smell of acetone on your breath
  • Fruity body odor, which some police mistake as a mixed drink
  • Dizziness and trouble keeping balance
  • Disorientation
  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Hostility or mania
  • Unusual nervousness
  • Disorientation, especially concerning time or place
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sudden mood change
  • Sweaty and clammy perspiration


Epilepsy and related seizures occur without warning and are pretty scary. But, they, in and of themselves, are not life-threatening. It happens because of an abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A seizure can be either partial or generalized. It will usually be accompanied by these symptoms:

  • A detachment from reality
  • A dreamy state
  • Dizziness
  • Falling
  • Sweating
  • Unresponsiveness to words or environment
  • Staring spells
  • Walking away during a conversation
  • Flushing
  • Heightened pleasure
  • Contorted posture or limbs
  • Aggressiveness or anger
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unrealistically fearful

Traumatic Brain Injury

(Video) Alleged Cop Impersonator Gets Arrested by Georgia Police

A brain injury is accompanied by symptoms correlating with the part of the brain that was injured. For example:

  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to make simple movements
  • Inability to perform sequence of complex movements
  • Unable to focus
  • Unable to focus attention visually
  • Difficulties with hand-eye coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Slurring speech
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Hallucinations, auditory or visual

Brain injuries occur during moments of stress or during physical activities. For example, if you play sports, you are at an increased risk of a brain injury. The injury may not even be apparent at first.

Because many people fall or knock their head during a game, it’s considered a common occurrence. Yet, even though it’s common, it can be life-threatening if it’s not dealt with immediately.

Slurred speech can be indicative of a serious injury, for example.

You may have a concussion or a hematoma – bleeding on the brain. Left untreated, you could die. If you’ve recently been in an accident of any kind, or suffered any kind of blow to the head, you should see your doctor immediately to rule out any damage to your brain.


This illness is related to another illness, called “dementia.” And, while it’s uncommon for young people to suffer from it, it can happen. The disease is progressive. Meaning, once you have it, it only gets worse as time goes on.

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and may include symptoms that make the person appear drunk, like:

  • Paranoia
  • Changes in mood
  • Confusion and anger
  • Aggressiveness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Falling down or disorientation
  • Incontinence
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Blank stare
  • Slurring speech or mumbling

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for alzheimer’s disease. If you suspect that you may be in the early stages of the disease, contact your doctor and have tests run to confirm. A diagnosis means that you will likely notice a steady decline in your cognitive abilities.

And, the heartbreaking conclusion to the disease is that you will likely forget even your own family at some point, becoming totally dependent on others for basic survival.

Wilson’s Disease

This rare disease is thought to be genetic in nature. The body accumulates excess copper, and cannot clear it. Unfortunately, the excess copper damages the liver, and impaired detox pathways. It may also make a person sound or look drunk. It can impair normal bodily functions, too, and requires medication.

(Video) Watch Lyft driver James Bode’s reaction to a passenger’s racist remarks.

Other common symptoms include pain in the knees and other joints. While it’s not common, it does happen to people of all ages, but is usually diagnosed when an individual is young.

If you suspect you may have this disease, you need to see a doctor immediately and get tested. It can be life-threatening if left undiagnosed and untreated.

Paul Takakjian is the founding partner at Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP and started his 35-year career as a district attorney in Los Angeles Superior courts (including West LA and Los Padrinos), Compton, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City and Pomona. As a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, Paul was a fixture in the courtroom. He specially prosecuted DUIs, sex crimes and hardcore gang crimes. Paul was also formerly an academy instructor for the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff ‘s department where he taught laws of evidence, breath testing and Title 17 compliance. His experience as a former prosecutor and law enforcement instructor helps him build strong defenses for his clients who are caught in our complex criminal justice system. Paul is certified as a specialist in criminal law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, a title reserved for the select attorneys who submit to a rigorous application and review process. He wrote the “DUI Prosecution Manual” while working at the District Attorneys Office, which the agency continued to use for several years after he left to start his private practice in 1987.

Related Posts:

  • Why We Really Need To Go for Checkups (Even if We Feel Okay)
  • Why Keto Dieting Could Be the Secret to Your Good Health
  • 5 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
  • 8 Reasons to Include Broccoli in Your Diet
  • 5 Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Adults for a Longer Life
  • Diabetes Signs and Symptoms in Women
  • health
  • illness
  • intoxication
  • wellness

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton

The Healthy Voyager, aka Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, is the creator and host of The Healthy Voyager web series, site, and overall brand. An award winning healthy, special diet and green living and travel expert, holistic nutritionist, plant based vegan chef, best-selling cookbook author, media spokesperson, sought after speaker, consultant and television personality, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton is a respected figure in the world of healthy lifestyle and travel as well as special diet cooking and nutrition. The Healthy Voyager aims to help people live well, one veggie at a time!

  1. I believe that have been dealing with stress induced anxiety as well as GAD, anxiety induced insomnia, and insomnia induced seizures. From what others describe my behavior and what I feel just before and after all these different kinds of seizures. I am constantly having and always been accused of being intoxicated. I even lost 2 of my 3 children because of this. And their lives are now very messed up

    (Video) Discharge of Intoxicated Patients, Buprenorphine Use in the ED & More | Risk Management Monthly
  2. How in creation can I let my spouses doctor know about these severe symptoms that I believe are diabetic? Blood tests all come back good but don’t if they are borderline, so when severe anxiety occurs, so does the imbalance. My spouse also has a metal like taste, as well as alcohol body odor takes over night to wear off! Scared and worried! Spouse is self preserving so I can’t offer input.

  3. Huntington’s Disease should definitely be on this list. My husband passed away from HD, and now my 26 year old daughter has it. I have been involved in the Huntington’s Disease community since 1997. There are countless stories from families whose loved ones have been mistaken for having this terrible fatal neurodegeneratve brain disorder, which is described as having Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS and schizophrenia all at the same time.

  4. My wife has been showing symptoms like disorientation, such as caused by alcohol.
    She’s a nurse, and can come home after a 12 hr; be fine for an hour or so, then will have trouble standing, walking, concentrating and speaking.
    Anyone have any suggestions??

  5. Back in 2011 I was diagnosed with a Vestibular issue which caused severe episodes of vertigo it got to a point where I was having these every day and the doctors said that my vestibular had become bad and had to be removed. So They removed my left vestibular and spent 2 months of rehabilitation on my balance which is pretty much relying only on my right ear. I was told by my doctor that if I’m ever asked to do a field sobriety test I shouldn’t do it and offer only breath and blood tests. I have tried to do some of the test police officers conduct and I will tell you I would definitely fail all because they deal with balancing. I would be interested in your opinions.

    (Video) Nightwatch: Titus Helps a Girl with Marijuana-Induced Anxiety Attack | A&E
  6. This site is very good and informative. Thanks for share valuable information.

  7. Hello, Neat post. There is a problem along with your site in web explorer, would check this?IE nonetheless is the market chief and a good component to other people will pass over your great writing due to this problem.


What condition can mimic intoxication? ›

Some of the conditions that mimic intoxication include: Diabetes, particularly a low blood sugar level, called hypoglycemia, which can lead to seizures, tremors, drowsiness and paranoia. Alternatively, with high blood sugar, hyperglycemia causes acetone to build up in the blood.

What can make you feel drunk without alcohol? ›

There is limited information in the medical literature on auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut-fermentation syndrome. This rare syndrome occurs because of yeast overgrowth in the gut, leading to fermentation of ethanol, thereby causing symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication without ingestion of alcohol.

Which drug can cause a person to appear intoxicated? ›

At fairly low doses, barbiturates may make you seem drunk or intoxicated. Barbiturates are addictive. People who use them become physically dependent on them.

Why do I walk like I'm drunk when I'm not? ›

Losing your balance while walking, or feeling imbalanced, can result from: Vestibular problems. Abnormalities in your inner ear can cause a sensation of a floating or heavy head and unsteadiness in the dark. Nerve damage to your legs (peripheral neuropathy).

What causes involuntary intoxication? ›

Involuntary intoxication is the unknowing ingestion of some intoxicating liquor, drug, or other substance, caused by force or fraud. Many jurisdictions recognize involuntary intoxication is a valid defense to a crime.

What is pseudo intoxicated? ›

Trancelike state mimicking intoxication with ataxia, excitement, irritability and stuttering.

What can cause drunk like symptoms? ›

Medical Conditions that Mimic Intoxication
  • diabetes;
  • hypoglycemia;
  • epilepsy;
  • stroke;
  • hypoxia from emphysema;
  • hyper- or hypothermia;
  • brain injuries;
  • reactions to medications;

What else makes you feel like alcohol? ›

However, the fact is that exercise releases endorphins that are responsible for feelings of euphoria and happiness, just like alcohol. In fact, many people refer to a good workout as a “runner's high.” Exercise's physical and mental effects can actually mimic that feeling you get when drinking alcohol.

What are the symptoms of gut fermentation syndrome? ›

Auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), also known as gut fermentation syndrome, is a very rare disorder. It is characterized by the endogenous production of alcohol. It typically presents with the signs of alcohol intoxication, such as staggering gait, slurred speech, gastrointestinal distress, and state of confusion.

Can a medical condition cause a person to seem intoxicated? ›

Conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia may also produce symptoms that appear as if the person is drunk. Those suffering from the conditions may be aggressive, have memory loss, have sudden changes in mood or be confused.

What is placebo drunk? ›

If someone hands you a drink that looks, smells, and tastes alcoholic, chances are you'll feel its intoxicating effects—even if it contains no alcohol at all. That's the placebo effect, according to a classic review of studies in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

What are the four types of intoxication? ›

Some types of intoxication:
  • Alcohol intoxication.
  • Caffeine intoxication.
  • Cannabis intoxication.
  • Heroin intoxication.
  • Water intoxication.

Can diabetes make you feel like you're drunk? ›

Hypoglycemia can mimic effects of alcohol

Some symptoms of low blood sugar can look the same as being drunk. The ones that are most common to both are feeling dizzy, light headed, or confused; and getting sleepy. Others may think your signs of low blood sugar are due to drinking. They may not realize you need help.

What is alcoholic gait? ›

It's the unsteady, staggering walk of a long-term alcoholic. The cause of the alcoholic gait is brain damage called alcoholic cerebellar ataxia. Ataxia refers to a loss of coordination, making it impossible to control various body movements.

What conditions make you walk weird? ›

General causes of abnormal gait may include:
  • Arthritis of the leg or foot joints.
  • Conversion disorder (a mental disorder)
  • Foot problems (such as a callus, corn, ingrown toenail, wart, pain, skin sore, swelling, or spasms)
  • Broken bone.
  • Injections into muscles that causes soreness in the leg or buttocks.
  • Infection.
  • Injury.

What is an example of involuntary intoxication? ›

The classic example of involuntary intoxication occurs when someone drinks the contents in a punch bowl, unaware it was spiked with alcohol.

What are 3 symptoms of intoxication? ›

Critical Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Overdose
  • Mental confusion, stupor.
  • Difficulty remaining conscious, or inability to wake up.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Slow heart rate.
  • Clammy skin.

What are 3 signs of intoxication? ›

Signs of Intoxication
  • Slurred speech.
  • Slow and deliberate movement.
  • Decreased alertness.
  • Quick, slow or fluctuating pace of speech.

What is subliminal intoxication? ›

Subliminal intoxication.

With a blood alcohol content (BAC) between 0.01 – 0.05, this is the first stage of intoxication. You may not look like you have been drinking, but your reaction time, behavior and judgment may be slightly altered. Depending on weight, most men and women enter this stage after one drink.

What is psychological intoxication? ›

Intoxication refers to a reversible pattern of behavioral or psychological changes produced by the drugs' action on the CNS (e.g., mood, belligerence, impaired cognition, judgment, motor skill performance, and social functioning).

What is the feeling of inebriation? ›

You might become emotionally unstable and get easily excited or saddened. You might lose your coordination and have trouble making judgment calls and remembering things. You might have blurry vision and lose your balance. You may also feel tired or drowsy.

What makes breath smell like alcohol without drinking? ›

If the individual has not been drinking but they still have alcohol breath it could signify an underlying medical condition. Sometimes bad breath could be mistaken as caused by alcohol when in fact it is due to a condition such as diabetes.

Can gluten make you feel drunk? ›

Gluten Ataxia Symptoms

As symptoms progress, some people say they walk or even talk as if they're drunk.

Can a diabetic person exhibit similar symptoms to someone who is overly intoxicated? ›

If their blood sugar falls too low, they can become irritable, dizzy, and disoriented – all of which the officer could interpret as intoxication. Additionally, people with diabetes may have an abnormally high amount of ketones in their breath, which a breath test may mistake for alcohol.

What drug mimics alcohol? ›

What Are Medication Alternatives for Alcohol?
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Valium (diazepam)
  • Barbiturates, such as Seconal (secobarbital)
  • Opioid drugs like heroin or Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone)
  • Some muscle relaxants.

What is in Bonbuz? ›

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Natural Flavors, Acacia Gum, Citric Acid, L-Tyrosine, Rhodiola Rosea Root Powder, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Caffeine from Green Tea, 5-HTP, Ginger Root Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Niacinamide, Folic Acid.

What is dysfunctional gut? ›

But if your gut isn't working optimally, your body does a poor job of breaking down foods. When digestion doesn't work properly, you may experience a range of symptoms, including gas, cramping, and bloating. Your stool may be too loose (diarrhea) or too dry (constipation).

Do I have leaky gut syndrome? ›

If your intestinal wall has been compromised, and you have leaky gut, you'll likely experience these symptoms and signs: Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) Food allergies or food intolerances. Brain fog, difficulty concentrating, ADD, or ADHD.

What is abnormal intestinal fermentation? ›

Abnormal fermentation may be associated with clinical symptoms and is generally assumed to take place in the small bowel. It may be established by ethanol production after a sugar challenge in the fasting subject, which produces maximum production of ethanol 1 hour after sugar challenge.

What is clinical intoxication? ›

All states consider a person to be “impaired” if their BAC is over 80-100 mg/dL. When a patient has a BAC at or above this level, they are legally intoxicated, despite their clinical appearance.

What is meant by the term alcohol myopia? ›

According to alcohol myopia theory (Steele and Josephs, 1990), alcohol ingestion leads to a state of short-sightedness by reducing processing capacities (Zeichner and Pihl, 1979; summary by Hull and Slone, 2004).

What are the three types of placebo? ›

Types of Placebos
  • Pure or inactive placebos, such as sugar pills or saline injections.
  • Impure or active placebos, such as prescribing an antibiotic for a viral infection or a vitamin even though the patient doesn't need it.
Jun 2, 2017

What is an example of the mind placebo effect? ›

For example, if you're regularly given the same arthritis pill to relieve stiff, sore joints, you may begin to associate that pill with pain relief. If you're given a placebo that looks similar to your arthritis pill, you may still believe it provides pain relief because you've been conditioned to do so.

What is GREY area drinking? ›

Realistically, gray area drinking can be seen as any level of drinking that affects your personal or work life, your health or the health of others around you in a negative way. And if you're worried about your drinking, that concern might be a clue that some things need to shift.

What is microbial intoxication? ›

Intoxication occurs when food-poisoning microorganisms produce a toxin that triggers sickness when ingested. Several different kinds of toxins are produced by the various microorganisms. These toxins usually affect the cells lining the intestinal wall, causing vomiting and diarrhea.

What are 3 intoxicating substances? ›

Intoxicants or psychoactive substances have been used in religious ceremonies; for medicinal purposes and for recreation.
Nature's addictive plants are: cannabis, coca, and poppy.
  • 1.1 Opium. ...
  • 1.2 Coca. ...
  • 1.3 Cannabis (Marijuana or hashish) ...
  • 1.4 Fly-agaric or Amanita muscaria mushroom.

Can hypoglycemia act like drunk? ›

Those with diabetes could produce a false positive blood alcohol content (BAC) if they are given a breathalyzer test while experiencing low blood sugar. The symptoms of low blood sugar levels are very similar to being under the influence of alcohol.

What causes ketoacidosis? ›

DKA is caused by an overload of ketones present in your blood. When your cells don't get the glucose they need for energy, your body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones. Ketones are chemicals that the body creates when it breaks down fat to use for energy.

What is episodic alcoholism? ›

Heavy episodic drinking (drinkers only) is defined as the proportion of adult drinkers (15+ years) who have had at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the past 30 days. A consumption of 60 grams of pure alcohol corresponds approximately to 6 standard alcoholic drinks.

What are the symptoms of alcoholic cerebellar degeneration? ›

Symptoms of cerebellar degeneration may include:
  • Balance problems, vertigo or dizziness.
  • Decreased muscle tone (hypotonia).
  • Eye problems, including double vision and involuntary eye movements (nystagmus).
  • Poor muscle coordination in your arms or legs (ataxia).
Mar 30, 2022

What does ataxia look like? ›

Ataxia is typically defined as the presence of abnormal, uncoordinated movements. This usage describes signs & symptoms without reference to specific diseases. An unsteady, staggering gait is described as an ataxic gait because walking is uncoordinated and appears to be 'not ordered'.

What chronic illness makes it hard to walk? ›

What is ataxia? Ataxia is a loss of muscle control. People with ataxia lose muscle control in their arms and legs. This may lead to a lack of balance, coordination, and trouble walking.

What does MS feel like walking? ›

ms frequently causes fatigue, which can limit walking endurance. ms damage to nerve pathways may hamper coordination and/or cause weakness, poor balance, numbness, or spasticity (abnormal increase in muscle tone). Visual or cognitive problems can also interfere with walking.

Why am I unstable when I walk? ›

Losing your balance while walking, or feeling imbalanced, can result from: Vestibular problems. Abnormalities in your inner ear can cause a sensation of a floating or heavy head and unsteadiness in the dark. Nerve damage to your legs (peripheral neuropathy).

What are the four types of involuntary intoxication? ›

An involuntary intoxication defense is available where the intoxication results from: 1) fraud, trickery or duress of another; 2) accident or mistake on his own part; 3) a pathological condition; 4) ignorance as to the effects of prescribed medication.

What is acetaldehyde syndrome? ›

Acetaldehyde toxic effects are characterized by facial flushing, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia and hypotension, symptoms known as acetaldehyde syndrome, disulfiram-like reactions or antabuse effects. Severe and even fatal outcomes are reported.

What is entrapment in law? ›

Entrapment is defined as a situation in which a normally law-abiding individual is induced into committing a criminal act they otherwise would not have committed because of overbearing harassment, fraud, flattery or threats made by an official police source.

What is self intoxication? ›

1 declares that intoxication is self-induced if it is the product of an unreasonable mistake, the precautions required to avoid intoxication are very different from those required to avoid committing a criminal offence.

What are the seven 7 stages of intoxication? ›

  • Reduced Awareness, Information Processing, and Visual Acuity.
  • Stages of Intoxication.
  • Reduced Muscle Coordination (BAC = 0.09 to 0.25 percent)
  • Confusion (BAC = 0.18 to 0.30 percent)
  • Stupor (BAC = 0.25 to 0.49 percent)
  • Coma (BAC = 0.35 to 0.50 percent)
  • Death (BAC = 0.50 + percent)

What is disulfiram toxicity? ›

Disulfiram toxicity refers to either a disulfiram overdose or a severe reaction caused by a disulfiram-alcohol reaction. It essentially means “a toxic reaction related to disulfiram.”

What are the signs of high acetaldehyde? ›

For example, high levels of acetaldehyde make drinking unpleasant, resulting in facial flushing, nausea, and a rapid heart beat. This “flushing” response can occur even when only moderate amounts of alcohol are consumed.

What are the symptoms of aldehyde dehydrogenase? ›

Aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) deficiency causes “Asian flush syndrome,” presenting as alcohol-induced facial flushing, tachycardia, nausea, and headaches. One of the most common hereditary enzyme deficiencies, it affects 35%–40% of East Asians and 8% of the world population.

What is intentional intoxication? ›

When an intention to cause a specific result is an element of an offence, intoxication, whether complete or partial, and whether intentional or unintentional, may be regarded for the purpose of ascertaining of whether such an intention in fact existed.

What is meant by actus reus? ›

Primary tabs. Actus reus refers to the act or omission that comprise the physical elements of a crime as required by statute. Actus reus includes only a voluntary affirmative act, or an omission (failure to act), causing a criminally proscribed result.


1. California Cop Drags 20-Year-Old Woman Out of Car by Her Hair
(Inside Edition)
2. Inside NHS detox centre - Victoria Derbyshire
(BBC News)
3. The 30-Day English Speaking Challenge!
(Club James Studios - English Speaking Videos)
4. Five car crash caught on camera
(10 Tampa Bay)
5. Officer Pulls Guy Over and Seriously Regrets It
(Audit the Audit)
6. Why we should not drink Alcohol?
(pOwer Of knOwledge)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Moshe Kshlerin

Last Updated: 09/10/2023

Views: 5852

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Moshe Kshlerin

Birthday: 1994-01-25

Address: Suite 609 315 Lupita Unions, Ronnieburgh, MI 62697

Phone: +2424755286529

Job: District Education Designer

Hobby: Yoga, Gunsmithing, Singing, 3D printing, Nordic skating, Soapmaking, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Moshe Kshlerin, I am a gleaming, attractive, outstanding, pleasant, delightful, outstanding, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.