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Alcohol Overdose
What should you do?

If they are conscious and responsive:
  • 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.

MUST - mental confusion, unresponsive, snoring/gasping for air, throwing up, HELP - Hypothermia, erratic breathing, loss of consciousness, paleness/blueness of skin
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 his/her 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.