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Medical Conditions That Can Make a Person Act Drunk

There are medical conditions that exist that can make a person act drunk or intoxicated.

DUI or Medical Condition?

You can't always assume based on behavior alone that a person has been drinking or has been using drugs. If they display certain abnormal behaviors it could indicate a serious medical condition. If the situation allows you can always try and talk to the person to learn more about their condition or communicate with a relative if one is available. You might also look to see if they are wearing a medical alert bracelet that might indicate their condition.


Symptoms of diabetes may make a person appear drunk or intoxicated

A person with diabetes may exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of the many different signs or symptoms associated with the disease. The signs and symptoms listed here only relate to symptoms that mimic drunk or intoxicated behavior. Generally, these are warning signs that a person needs immediate medical attention and should be treated as a medical emergency. Police dealing with suspects often times mistake diabetes for drug or alcohol use during field sobriety exercises.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

» The smell of acetone on the person's breath
» A distinctive fruity odor on the breath (Police Officers often mistake the smell as alcohol during a field sobriety tests)
» Dizzy, has trouble keeping balance
» Altered states of consciousness
» Arousal such as hostility or mania
» Apprehensive with no obvious reason
» Unusual nervousness
» Disoriented in place or time
» Confused when asked simple questions or confused in general about circumstances
» Sweaty with clammy perspiration
» Inability to concentrate on what you are telling them or on the tasks at hand
» Sudden mood changes


Epileptic seizures generally happen without warning for most people. A seizure is a brain disorder of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures may be either partial or generalized and will present signs and symptoms that vary among individuals.

Signs and Symptoms of Epilepsy

» May appear detached from reality
» The person might be in a dreamy state
» Dizzy, unable to maintain balance
» Falls down
» Staring spells
» Unresponsive
» Walks away during a conversation
» The person may have pupillary dilation
» Sweating
» Problems speaking
» They may display an inability to answer questions
» Contorted posture / limbs appear twisted
» Flushing
» Memory and time distortion (they may not remember what just happened)
» May appear unrealistically fearful
» May exhibit emotional signs of heightened pleasure
» May exhibit emotional signs of displeasure
» May appear aggressive or angry
» Complete loss of consciousness

Brain Picture - Epilepsy or Brain Injury


Brain injures will generally have signs and symptoms that relate directly to what part of the brain was injured. Here are just a few symptoms that someone could easily mistake as the person being drunk or intoxicated. These will vary among individuals and to what extent the brain was injured.

Signs and Symptoms of Brain Injury

» The person may exhibit tremors
» Dizzy, unable to maintain balance
» Unable to make simple movements of various body parts
» Inability to perform a sequence of complex movements
» Unable to focus on tasks
» Sudden mood changes
» Inability to focus attention visually
» Difficulties with hand and eye coordination
» The person may suffer from hallucinations or visual illusions
» They may have difficulty in understanding spoken words
» They may show signs of aggressive behavior
» The person may slur their speech