What is Alcohol Poisoning?
When someone has alcohol poisoning their blood alcohol level has gotten so high that it is toxic (poisonous) to the body.
Alcohol poisoning can sometimes be difficult to spot. It can be a very fine line. One minute your friend is stupidly drunk, the next they’ve become dangerously intoxicated. They may have only had a few drinks, or they could have downed several, but how much they drink isn’t always an indicator. There is no minimum amount. It depends on your age, sex, size, weight, how fast you’ve been drinking, how much you’ve eaten, your general health and other drugs you might have taken. Your body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour.
By recognising the signs of acute alcohol poisoning and knowing what to do, you could save someone’s life. Read more below so that you can help protect your friends.
Know the Signs
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning to Look out For:
- Loss of coordination
- Irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
- Blue-tinged or pale skin
- Low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Stupor (when someone is concious but unresponsive)
- Unconciousness (passing out)
Know What to Do
6 Things to Do If Your Friend Is Showing Signs of Alcohol Poisoning:
- Try to keep them awake and sitting up
- Give them water if they can drink it
- Keep them warm
- Lay them on their side if they've passed out
- Check if they're beathing properly
- Stay with them and monitor their symptoms
If they are not getting any better or you're not sure, don’t delay, call Dal Security (902-494-4109) if you're on campus or 911 if you're off campus for emergency assistance.
Know What Not to Do
Acute alcohol poisoning can be extremely dangerous. Your best intentions could make it worse. There are so many myths around about how to deal with people who’ve drunk to excess, but these traditional ways of trying to sober up a friend can do far more harm than good. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re aware of what not to do.
Don't Leave Them to Sleep It Off
Why? The amount of alcohol in someone’s blood continues to rise even when they’re not drinking. That’s because alcohol in the digestive system carries on being absorbed into the bloodstream. Too much alcohol in the blood stops the body working properly and can cause death
Don't Give Them Coffee
Why? Alcohol dehydrates the body. Coffee will make someone who is already dehydrated even more so. Severe dehydration can cause permanent brain damage.
Don't Make Them Sick
Why? Their gag reflex won’t be working properly which means they could choke on their vomit.
Don't Walk Them Around
Why? Alcohol is a depressant which slows down your brain’s functions and affects your sense of balance. Walking them around might cause accidents.
Don't Put Them Under a Cold Shower
Why? Alcohol lowers your body temperature, which could lead to hypothermia. A cold shower could make them colder than they already are.
Don't Let Them Drink Anymore Alcohol
Why? The amount of alcohol in their bloodstream could become dangerously high.