Excessive drinking can be hazardous to everyone's health! It can be particularly stressful if you are the sober one taking care of your drunk roommate, who is vomiting while you are trying to study for an exam.
Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it's even funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the aspiration of vomit leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of which can result in death.
Do you know about the dangers of alcohol poisoning? When should you seek professional help for a friend? Sadly enough, too many college students say they wish they would have sought medical treatment for a friend. Many end up feeling responsible for alcohol-related tragedies that could have easily been prevented.
Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, taking a cold bath or
shower, sleeping it off, or walking it off. But these are just myths, and they don't
work. The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is time-something you may
not have if you are suffering from alcohol poisoning. And many different factors affect
the level of intoxication of an individual, so it's difficult to gauge exactly how
much is too much.
What Happens to Your Body When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions.
It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.
You should also know that a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.
Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning:
What Should I Do If I Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?
What Can Happen to Someone With Alcohol Poisoning That Goes Untreated?
Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet or a dare) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.
Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don't
worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed-remember, you cared enough
to help. Always be safe, not sorry.
When you are dealing with someone who is overly intoxicated, you are dealing with a potentially life - threatening situation.
Here Are a Few Guidelines That May Help:
If You Are Dealing With a Person Who is Unconscious:
If You Are Dealing With a Person Who is Conscious:
Things to Remember in an Emergency Situation:
There is no way to sober up quickly. It takes time for a person to metabolize the alcohol in the bloodstream. A cold shower, black coffee, oxygen, or exercise will have little effect. A general rule of thumb is that it takes as many hours to sober up as the number of drinks that have been ingested.
If a person has had "one too many" and passes out, monitor his or her breathing to make sure it's normal. If breathing is irregular and/or the person appears to be in a coma, or has a purplish skin tone, try to wake him or her by shaking or gently poking. If there is no response, call for medical attention immediately. Be aware that if you do not seek medical attention when the situation necessitates it, you could be held legally liable. If you have any doubt, call for help!
To prevent choking on vomit by someone who is intoxicated, make sure the person is on his or her side.
Much care must be executed with the aggressive drunk who wants to fight everyone.
Substance Abuse Prevention and Education
One University Plaza, MS 2030
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701