If they are conscious and responsive:
What should you do?
- Stay with them. Check often to make sure they are still conscious and responsive.
- Make certain that they stay on their side, not their back. See The Bacchus Maneuver
- Before you touch them, tell them exactly what you are going to do. Be aware of any signs of aggression. Do not ridicule, judge, threaten, or try to counsel them.
- Remain calm and be firm. Avoid communicating feelings of anxiety or anger.
- Keep them quiet and comfortable. If they are in the sun, move them to the shade. If cold, move them to a warm place and offer a blanket.
- Don't give them food, drink, or medication of any kind.
- Remember that only time will sober up a drunk person. Walking, showering, or drinking coffee will not help and may actually cause harm.
If the person is unconscious, semi-conscious, or unresponsive, check for these symptoms of alcohol or drug overdose:
- Cannot be roused and are unresponsive to your voice, shaking, or pinching their skin.
- Skin is cold, clammy, pale, bluish, and/or blotchy.
- Breathing is slow - eight or fewer breaths per minute.
- Experience lapses in breathing - more than 10 seconds between breaths.
- Exhibit mental confusion, stupor, or coma.
- Have seizures, convulsions, or rigid spasms.
- Vomit while asleep or unconscious and do not awaken.
Courtesy of Aware, Awake, Alive
If any of these symptoms of alcohol overdose exist, call 911 for help, and while waiting for emergency personnel:
- Gently turn them onto their side and into the Bacchus Maneuver position.
- Don't leave them alone at any time and be prepared to administer CPR.
- Remember that there is a chance that a person who has passed out may not ever regain consciousness and there is a serious risk that death could occur.
What can happen if an alcohol overdose goes untreated?
- A person could choke on their vomit.
- Breathing may slow down, become irregular, and stop.
- Heart may beat irregularly and stop.
- Hypothermia (low body temperature).
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to seizures.
- Severe dehydration from vomiting, which can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.
Seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Your friend may become angry or embarrassed if you call 911, but it's better to have them alive and angry than dead.
Topics: A-Z Health Topics