Avoid Alcohol Poisoning

Avoiding Alcohol Poisoning: A Guide for Family and Friends

Alcohol poisoning is scary stuff. As a friend or family member, you want to look out for your loved ones and make sure they stay safe when drinking. This guide has tips on spotting the signs of alcohol poisoning early, preventing it from happening, and getting help when needed.

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning happens when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Their blood alcohol level spikes, which can affect critical body functions like breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex. The results can be life-threatening.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Confusion, stumbling, vomiting
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin
  • Passing out and being unable to be woken up

If you suspect alcohol poisoning, call 911 right away. Every minute counts, so don’t wait to see if they “sleep it off.” Get medical help ASAP.

Tips for Spotting Trouble Early

As a caring friend, you can spot issues early and prevent them from becoming dangerous.

Know the Warning Signs

Learn the common signs of alcohol poisoning so you can recognize trouble brewing.

Does your friend seem really confused, is slurring words, or keeps stumbling? Are they struggling to stay conscious? These are red flags, even if they don’t seem “that drunk.” Don’t ignore them.

Keep Track of Drinks

Pay attention to how much your friend is drinking over time. Having 8 drinks in 2 hours is riskier than the same amount over 5+ hours.

If they start doing multiple shots in a row, that’s a warning sign to slow things down.

Stay Sober Yourself

It’s harder to help others when you’ve been hitting the bottle too. Volunteer to be the sober buddy so you can keep an eye on people.

Bring water for everyone and encourage food breaks to slow the alcohol absorption.

Preventing Alcohol Poisoning in Friends

Sometimes friends get carried away when drinking. As a caring buddy, you can gently intervene to prevent issues:

Slow Things Down

Suggest taking a break or switching to water for a bit. Distract them with food, dancing, or chatting instead of more shots.

If they resist, rally others to help persuade them it’s time to slow down.

Cut Off the Booze

At a certain point, you may have to get firm for their safety. Take away drinks if needed, letting them know you care and don’t want anything bad happening.

Some people get mad when cut off, but true friends will understand later. Don’t be afraid to risk temporary anger to prevent poisoning!

Get Friends Home Safely

Arrange a safe ride home for anyone extremely intoxicated. Don’t let severely drunk friends walk home alone or drive under any circumstances.

You can also have intoxicated friends stay the night if needed so you can monitor them.

Assisting Family Members with Drinking Issues

Seeing a loved one struggle with alcohol is painful. There are constructive things families can do, even if the drinker resists help.

Communicate Openly

Tell your family member how their drinking affects you and others in a caring way. Specific examples are best. Listen openly if they open up about underlying issues driving the alcohol abuse.

Set Loving Limits

Let them know you won’t enable dangerous drinking, but will support healthy choices. Disconnect drinking events from family gatherings when reasonable.

Consider Treatment

Don’t feel you have to handle this alone. Seek counseling on constructive ways to assist without enabling. Support your loved one in getting alcohol treatment when they’re ready.

Al-Anon and other support groups help families cope with alcoholic loved ones. You don’t have to face this alone.

Getting Emergency Help for Alcohol Poisoning

If you suspect a friend or family member has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait to see if they sleep it off – this can be deadly. Here’s what to do as you await emergency medics:

Don’t Leave Them Alone

Stay with the person, turning them on their side if unconscious. This prevents choking if they vomit. Keep trying to wake them – loss of consciousness is a very serious sign.

Don’t Induce Vomiting

While vomiting often happens, don’t try to induce it. This can cause choking or breathing issues.

Give Info to Medics

Provide any info you have about the amount & type of alcohol consumed. Be honest even if underage, as this info can help save your friend!

Alcohol poisoning has taken too many young lives. We all have to look out for each other!


Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms from Mayo Clinic

Alcohol Poisoning Video

More on Helping Alcoholic Family Members

I tried to cover the key things friends and family should know about alcohol poisoning in this guide, using simple explanations and an empathetic tone. Let me know if you need any part expanded or have additional suggestions! Taking care of each other is so important.