Alcohol Poisoning

The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is time – but if someone you see is suffering from alcohol poisoning, they may not have that time.  Don’t be afraid to seek immediate medical attention for a friend who has had too much to drink.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Blueish skin color, pale skin
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Unconsciousness (“passed out”) and cannot be aroused.

It's not necessary for all of these symptoms to be present before you seek help.

5 Steps To Remember If You Think Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning

  1. Call 911 or a local poison control center
  2. Stay with the person. Never leave a severely intoxicated person alone. (Even after a person stops drinking, a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out.)
  3. Turn the person onto their side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs.
  4. Monitor breathing levels. If you know CPR, be prepared to use this skill in case of an emergency.
  5. Continually try to awaken the person if they are passed out

If you have to seek medical help, be sure to tell the hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol that the person drank, and when. 

Potential Effects on Your Body

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Choking (from vomiting)
  • Coma
  • Decrease in body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Brain damage
  • Seizure
  • Irregular breathing patterns
  • Death