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  » First Aid  »  First Aid For the (alcohol) Intoxicated
One of the most serious consequences of high-risk consumption of alcohol is alcohol poisoning. This page will help you prevent alcohol poisoning by determine when medical attention is necessary and providing guidance for monitoring and providing first aid for an intoxicated person. Review this information so you are prepared for situations involving alcohol poisoning and remember that if are concerned about a persons condition the best course is to seek medical attention.


There are a number of early warning signs and at-risk behaviors that increase the risk for alcohol overdose. Take notice of these behaviors, as they indicate that person may experience difficulties at some point in the evening. The best time to intervene is when you notice a person is engaging in these behaviors. Some of the early signs of risk include:

High-Risk Drinking Drinking quickly, playing drinking games, multiple shots, and chugging or funneling drinks. These behaviors will cause the blood alcohol concentration to rise quickly and are particularly risky when the person has already consumed a significant amount of alcohol.
Vomiting Vomiting is the bodies first response to alcohol overdose. The body is attempting to expel the alcohol before it reaches the blood stream. In some cases the person will not vomit... especially when alcohol is ingested quickly, which suppresses the bodies regurgitation response.
Mixing Alcohol and Other Drugs Mixing alcohol with other drugs produces a number of dangerous situations. Use of depressive drugs and alcohol can greatly increase the persons response to alcohol, especially when they are taken after consuming alcohol. Use of stimulant drugs (including ecstasy) can make the person feel they can drink more. The effects of the alcohol can be masked, but alcohol will still have the same depressive effects.


The best way to avoid alcohol overdoses is to practice low-risk drinking and take steps to eliminate or reduce high-risk drinking behaviors (i.e., drinking quickly, multiple shots, playing drinking games, chugging/funneling drinks, and mixing alcohol and other drugs).

  • Keep the person still.
  • Keep calm, take a deep breath. Don't let your anxiety transfer to the individual in trouble.
  • Assess the situation. Look at the problem clearly, and decide how serious it is before taking action.
  • If conscious, keep awake and encourage vomiting.
  • If a person has had 'one too many' and passes out, monitor his or her breathing to make sure it's normal.
  • If the person is not breathing, get help immediately, and administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • If breathing is irregular and he or she appears to be in a coma, with a purplish skin tone, try to wake him/her by shaking or gently poking.
  • If you can not wake the person get medical attention immediately.
  • If the person responds but is listless and sleepy, make sure he or she is on their side so they will not choke in case of vomiting (see next page). Keep person comfortable, have someone stay with them, and let them sleep.
  • If no one can stay with them contact a campus official.
Call for Medical Attention Immediately if any of the Following Symptoms is Present:
  • Respiration is less than 9 breaths/min.
  • Breathing is irregular.
  • Pulse is 50 or below and dropping.
  • No pain response. There is no response to a shoulder pinch.
  • Unconsciousness. If you can not wake the person.
  • You are worried at all about the state they are in.


Even if you place him or her in a correct position they may be at risk for medical complications or death. Continually monitor them and check often for signs of alcohol poisoning.

Your friend may need more than just time to sleep it off. If you are at all worried about the state they are in, get medical attention. They may have injured themselves in a fall, combined alcohol with other drugs, or have a medical problem you don't know about.
Raise his/her closest arm above his head.
Prepare to roll him towards you.
Gently roll as a unit.
Guard the head as you roll him/her.
Tilt head to maintain airway.
Tuck nearest hand under cheek to help maintain head tilt.