What should you do?
- 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, below.)
- 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.
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.