What to Do in an Alcohol Emergency

Alcohol poisoning is an emergency

Left untreated, an alcohol overdose (a.k.a. alcohol poisoning) can cause a person to choke or suffocate on their own vomit, stop breathing, have a seizure, suffer brain damage, or die. A person with alcohol poisoning needs immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call for emergency medical help right away.

Alcohol poisoning can also occur when adults or children accidentally or intentionally drink household products that contain alcohol.

Review the warning signs below and don’t hesitate to call for help.

Alcohol poisoning signs and symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Passing out (unconsciousness) and can't be awakened

It's not necessary to have all these signs and symptoms before you seek help. A person who is unconscious or can't be awakened is at risk of dying.

When to call for help

If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning - even if you don't see the classic signs and symptoms - seek immediate medical care.

Alcohol poisoning is an emergency

If you are with someone who has been drinking a lot of alcohol and you see any of the signs or symptoms above, here's what to do:

  • Call 8311 from a campus phone for your Lamar University Police Department. Never assume that a person will sleep off alcohol poisoning.
  • Call 911 from your cell phone for local emergency number immediately. Never assume that a person will sleep off alcohol poisoning.
  • Be prepared to provide information. If you know, be sure to tell hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when.
  • Don't leave an unconscious person alone. Because alcohol poisoning affects the way your gag reflex works, someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit and not be able to breathe. While waiting for help, don't try to make the person vomit because he or she could choke.
  • Help a person who is vomiting. Try to keep him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, make sure to turn his or her head to the side — this helps prevent choking. Try to keep the person awake to prevent loss of consciousness.

Don't be afraid to get help!

It can be difficult to decide if you think someone is drunk enough to warrant medical intervention, but it's best to err on the side of caution. You may worry about the consequences for yourself or your friend or loved one, particularly if you're underage. But the consequences of not getting the right help in time can be far more serious.

Source: Mayo Clinic