Sometimes when a person drinks too much, they pass out. This is the body’s way of protecting itself by not allowing the person to drink more. But when someone drinks a lot of alcohol very quickly, they may not pass out in time. They could drink enough to cause them to slip into a coma and die of an alcohol overdose.
Signs of alcohol overdose
- severe vomiting, or vomiting while passed out and not waking up after vomiting
- not responding to being talked to or shouted at
- not responding to being pinched, shaken, or poked
- being unable to stand up
- not responding to efforts to be awoken
- slow and laboured breathing
- turning a purplish colour
- having cold, clammy skin
- having a rapid pulse rate
Don’t take chances when a life is at stake
If you see any of these symptoms in someone who has been drinking, get medical help as soon as possible.
What to do
- Call an ambulance.
- Roll the person on their side into the recovery position so they won’t choke if they vomit.
- Do not leave the person alone. Stay with them and make sure they’re breathing until medical help arrives.
- If you aren’t sure what to do, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. GET HELP if you suspect an alcohol overdose, even if the person is underage.
The recovery position
If someone passes out from drinking too much, you can help by putting them in the recovery position so they won’t choke if they vomit. You may not think they have had too much to drink, but they may have combined alcohol with other drugs. Or they may have a medical condition you’re not aware of.
Follow these steps
- Raise the person’s closest arm above their head. Prepare the person to roll toward you.
- Gently roll the person’s entire body toward you. Guard the person’s head while you roll them.
- Tilt the person’s head to keep their airway open. Tuck the person’s nearest hand under their cheek to help keep their head tilted.
- Do not leave the person alone. Stay with them until medical help arrives.
The exact positioning of the person is less important than the purpose of the recovery position, which is to keep their airway open so fluids like vomit can drain from their mouth.
- Safe Withdrawal From Alcohol and Other Drugs