What alcohol poisoning looks like - and how you can help

28 Sep 2020
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

People aged 16-24 are the most likely to be teetotal. But, when they do drink, this age group is also the most likely to binge - and it’s binge drinking that puts you at risk of alcohol poisoning.

The trouble is, it's binge drinking that puts you at risk of alcohol poisoning. If things do go wrong, here's what to do.

How to spot the signs of alcohol poisoning

If your friend looks like they’re struggling, you can help if you know how to spot the signs of alcohol poisoning. So here they are.

Somebody who’s suffering from alcohol poisoning might:

  • get confused
  • slur their words
  • lose coordination, stumble or fall over repeatedly
  • throw up
  • start breathing slowly or irregularly
  • become very cold, with pale or blue-tinged skin
  • stop responding even though they’re conscious
  • pass out and become unconscious

If you’re worried but unsure, call 999 straight away and ask for an ambulance. Alcohol poisoning is dangerous and should be treated in hospital.

What to do until the ambulance arrives

Stay with them and try to contact your friends for support if you’re out with a group. Then:

  • keep them sitting up and awake by talking to them
  • give them water if they can drink it
  • if they've passed out, check they're breathing properly
  • lie them on their side if they are unconscious
  • keep them warm by putting a jumper or coat around them
  • keep checking their symptoms

Now you know what to do, let’s look at the things you shouldn’t do.

Never do any of these things

There are a few myths around what to do for people who are very drunk or suffering from alcohol poisoning. So, if you think somebody has alcohol poisoning:

  • never let them drink any more alcohol
  • never leave them alone to sleep it off
  • never give them coffee
  • never make them walk around
  • never put them under the shower
  • never try to make them throw up

These things won’t help and they could be dangerous.

For more information on alcohol poisoning visit the NHS website.

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Staff writer at The Common Room