If you are going to drink or be around drinkers, this may be the most important information you ever read.
So you're the designated driver. You've been the responsible one all night. You've gotten them home safely. You are so glad your job is finally done. Finally!
Stop celebrating. It's not over.
So many college students die after they have been dropped off safely. So many college students have had too much to drink and fallen asleep only to never wake up again. If you love your friends, you've got to make sure they are sober enough to go to sleep.
Sounds crazy? It could be the difference between life and death. A person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) continues to rise even while he/she is passed out. Alcohol that is in the stomach and intestines will continue to enter the blood stream and circulate throughout the body. That makes it very dangerous for someone you think "might" be ok, to just sleep it off.
The following information is meant to serve as a guide towards helping you identify and take care of someone who has had too much to drink. Always remember to err on the side of caution. It is ALWAYS better to be SAFE than sorry.
So your friend has been slamming them for hours. You know he/she is most likely in bad shape. There is only one thing that will change this condition — alcohol FREE time. Nothing will sober up a drunk person but time. Caffeine, cold shower, sleeping it off, walking it off, eating greasy food, drinking a bunch of water and taking Tylenol are only going to give you a hyper, wet, less tired, sore legged drunk with an upset stomach that may not have a headache and needs to pee ... NOTHING will work but time. Alcohol free time.
So your friend is drunk, you know nothing is going to reverse this situation but time — what is the worst that can happen?
Well, several things. "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." — www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov
- Breathing can slow, become irregular, or stop
- Heart can beat irregularly or stop
- Hypothermia or hypoglycemia can result in seizures and organ failure
- Untreated, severe dehydration from vomiting can lead to seizures, brain damage and even death
Even if a victim survives all of this, severe alcohol poisoning can lead to irreversible brain damage.
The only solution that makes any sense at all is to call 911 if you are in the least bit of doubt.
When rapid binge drinking occurs, usually as a result of a drinking game or a bet/dare, it is particularly dangerous — as the person can ingest a fatal dose of alcohol before unconsciousness or sleep even occurs. It's particularly important to keep an eye on these folks.
The basic signs of Alcohol Poisoning include, but are not limited to:
- Irregular breathing or breathing that is slow/shallow. If you notice anything unusual about a person's breathing, get help immediately.
- Person's skin may become pale or bluish in tent. They may feel cold or clammy. Eyes may appear to be sunken or have dark circles under them.
- The person may exhibit confusion or appear to be in a stupor.
- If vomiting starts — you can take that as a sign that the body has reached the point of overload. This can be a sign of serious danger.
- Be aware that if a person passes out they could die.
If you discover ANY of the above symptoms, stay with the person and call 911 immediately.
Let's Walk Through the Steps
Your friend is hammered.
- The most important thing to do is stay calm.
- It's best to have a sober person make the decisions. Often decision making while under the influence of alcohol can result in underestimating the situation.
If at any time the person becomes unconscious or has respiratory problems immediately call 911.
- Keep the person still and comfortable
- Don't leave a person alone who is vomiting.
- If the intoxicated person lies down, make sure they are on their side NOT on the back or stomach.
- Monitor the person's breathing and heart beat
- If you have ANY doubts, call 911. It's better to be safe than sorry!
Things you shouldn't do:
- Don't try any "sober up" methods. TIME is the only thing that will sober a person up. ONLY TIME!
- Don't anger the person by making fun of them or trying to counsel them about their drinking. This could provoke extreme emotions and cause the person to either try and leave or injure themselves or others.
- Never wait just a little longer to call 911 if you think the person could be in serious danger. Chances are the person's condition will worsen over the next few hours, not improve. If you have the slightest doubt, CALL 911.
This information may seem alarming. It may put a dark cloud over the possibility of a really fun time. Hopefully it won't become an issue — unfortunately it often does. Know that it's better to be prepared than to have your head in the sand or believe that this will never happen to you or someone you know. Don't ever hesitate to call 911 if you are unsure of a person's condition. Alcohol overdose/poisoning is one of the leading causes of death among college students. Don't let yourself be a part of something tragic!