Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Unconscious drinker
Drinking excessively can lead to death.

Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning can help you save a life. Many people die every year from the effects of too much drinking. This article will help you determine if your friend or family member might be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Recognizing Alcohol Poisoning

Suppose you find yourself in the following position. Your friend or family member has gone out for a night of drinking. He or she comes home and you can tell your loved one has had too much to drink. How do you know if he or she is suffering from alcohol poisoning?

Questions to Ask

Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to determine if this person is in trouble:

  • Is the person vomiting uncontrollably?
  • Does the person seem confused?
  • Is the person breathing slowly (less than eight breaths every minute)?
  • Is the person breathing irregularly with at least 10 seconds between each breath?
  • Does the person feel cold or clammy?
  • Is the skin pale or bluish in color?
  • Is the person having a seizure (exhibited by shaking involuntarily)?
  • Is the person unconscious?
  • Are you unable to get the person's attention?
bottles of alcohol

What do Do

If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, your friend or family member might be in great danger. Here is what to do to help:

  • Turn the person on his or her side so that vomiting doesn't cause choking and asphyxiation.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately, and stay close to your friend.
  • Continue to monitor him or her until paramedics arrive.

Know the Warning Signs

You can help someone stay away from the lethal limits of intoxication, but spotting the warning signs early and encouraging your friend or family member to slow down or stop drinking is also important. Someone has had too much to drink when:

  • He or she cannot walk or stand up straight
  • The person exhibits erratic behavior
  • Your loved one feels sick or starts vomiting
  • The person cannot hold a conversation
  • The person cannot make eye contact
  • Your loved one's speech is slurred

Helping Your Friends

Intoxicated people will usually not listen to someone who tries to tell them to stop drinking. They are living in the moment and want to continue having a good time. Sometimes it's better to try to remove the person from the environment where he or she is drinking or have the person serving stop handing the person drinks. Your friend or family member may be upset with you, but it's better to lose a friend because you saved him or her from alcohol poisoning than losing a friend to death.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning