Alcohol Poisoning

Signs of Poisoning

Confusion, loss of coordination

Loss of consciousness and/or unresponsiveness

Irregular or very slow breathing

Pale, blue, gray, and/or cold skin

Vomiting, seizures

How to Respond

Contact emergency medical services or instruct someone else to do so.

Things to keep in mind...

  • Try to keep them awake and sitting up.
  • If they are passed out or cannot sit upright, place them in the recovery position.
  • If they can drink water, give them some to sip on slowly.
  • Alcohol lowers blood temperature, so make sure they are warm.
  • Alcohol levels can increase for up to an hour after their last drink, so if possible, do not leave them alone until medical services arrive or their condition has stably improved to a non-dangerous level (at least 2-3 hours).
  • Attempts to sober them up, such as a shower or stimulants (including caffeine), will not help and are likely dangerous.

Recovery position

If they are unconscious, or if you must leave them alone (even for a minute), place them in the recovery position so they cannot choke on their own vomit.

Recovery position illustration
  • Ensure their airway is clear (remove anything inside their mouth).
  • Lay them on their side.
  • Bend the knee that is higher up in the air over their body to prevent them from rolling over.
  • Turn their face to the side, optionally resting it on their arm.
  • Position their chin up so their throat is open.

Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons, Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr