Alcohol Poisoning

The Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Person is known to have consumed large quantities of alcohol
  • Person is unconscious and cannot be awakened
  • Person has cold, clammy, unusually pale or bluish skin
  • Person is breathing slowly or irregularly, less than 8 times a minute or 10 seconds or more between breaths
  • Person vomits while passed out and does not wake up during or after

Steps to Taking Action

  1. Try to wake the person. Try to wake the person by calling their name, slapping thier face, or pinching their skin. See if you can get a reaction that will wake the person up. Remember, just because they wake up doesn't mean they are fine. Alcohol stays in the bloodstream until it is processed and just because you can get some reaction at 1:00 AM doesn't mean they will still be conscious by 2:00 AM. Do not leave the person alone.
  2. Check the person's breathing.  Evaluate if the person has slow or irregular breaths; less than 8 times per minute or more than 10 seconds between breaths. If they are not conscious or barely able to wake up, you need to make sure they don't choke on their own vomit.
  3. Turn the person on his/her side to prevent choking. If they are not conscious or barely able to wake up, begin by making sure they don't choke on their own vomit. Start by putting their arm above their head. Bend their opposite knee and rolll them toward you so that they are lying on their side, preferably their left side. Putting the person on their left side will slow the delivery of alcohol to the small intestine and also will allow more air to surface from the right lung. This way, if they do throw up, the vomit will have a better chance of coming out.
  4. Do not leave the person alone. Although it might be inconvenient, it is important to stay with someone who is extremely drunk and barley conscious. Continue to monitor their breathing, responsiveness, skin and lip color, etc.
  5. If any of the signs of alcohol posioning exist, call 9-1-1 or follow your campus emergency procedures immediately. Taking action can mean the difference between life and death.

Information obtained from: The Bacchus Network