Would you know what to do if your buddy showed signs of alcohol poisoning? Learn the warning signs and what to do in an emergency so your night out doesn’t end badly.

Alcohol Poisoning

If you drink alcohol or spend time with people who drink, you need to know the signs of alcohol poisoning. This is one of the most dangerous short-term consequences of drinking too much. A night of binge or excessive drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

Make sure you and your friends know the life-threatening signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • The person shows mental confusion, stupor or coma (for example, they don’t respond in full sentences that make sense)
  • The person can’t wake up or has passed out and is difficult to wake up
  • The person is vomiting
  • The person’s breathing is slow (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
  • The person’s breathing is irregular (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • The person has a seizure (sudden and uncontrolled body movements and changes in behavior)
  • The person shows signs of hypothermia (or low body temperature), which includes cold, clammy, pale or bluish-colored skin

If one of your friends shows any of these signs after drinking, get help immediately—follow your local emergency reporting procedures or call 9-1-1. Once someone drinks a fatal dose of alcohol, they will eventually stop breathing and die. Do not let them “sleep it off.” Their blood alcohol level will continue to rise even after they have stopped drinking. Left alone, they could stop breathing, develop hypothermia or choke on their vomit while passed out. Your buddy’s life is important; get help if you’re concerned.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism