How to Identify Alcohol Poisoning

Binge drinking—drinking more than five alcoholic drinks in a few hours at parties and bars—is very popular amongst teens and college students. While it may seem like the fun and cool thing to do, it is also incredibly dangerous. Binge drinking can lead to alcohol overdose or poisoning, which puts a person’s health and life at risk.

There are different ways that alcohol poisoning can manifest in a person’s body. Critical signs of alcohol poisoning include, vomiting, mental confusion, irregular or slow breathing, cold, pale or bluish skin and the person can pass out or go into a coma.

Different bodies metabolize and react to alcohol differently, so look for the signs to determine a person’s level of drunkenness, rather than how much they’ve had to drink. The alcohol level in the blood (“blood alcohol content”) will continue to rise even after the person has stopped drinking. Don’t assume a person will just “sleep” it off.

If a person has lost or is losing consciousness, the most important thing to do is remain calm. Lie them down and roll them onto one side into the fetal position, with their legs bent at the knee and an arm under their head. Make sure they are not on their backs or in a position where they can easily roll onto their back. If a person vomits while unconscious on their back, they can choke and die.

alcohol drinkImage: Tom Joy

If a person is vomiting, don’t leave them alone—if they choke, there needs to be someone there to help them. If you feel you need to call 911, don’t hesitate. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and time could mean a life in this situation. Even if you are underaged, afraid of getting caught or in trouble, that’s not what’s important here—you need to take care of your friend. If you call the ambulance, have an address and phone number ready. The paramedics will want to talk to you when they get there so they know the back story. Tell them the truth because this won’t be the first alcohol poisoning case they’ve ever seen.

When you’re out with friends, it’s a good idea to have one person who is the designated driver or who will remain sober for the night, just in case anything happens and someone needs to be taken to the hospital or looked after. There are severe consequences to alcohol poisoning, such as brain damage and death, so be aware of the risks and encourage your friends to drink in moderation.

Feature Image: Image Catalog