Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Alcohol & Other Drugs
Alcohol depresses nerves in the body that help control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (prevents choking). Drinking too much alcohol will lead to a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and cause these involuntary actions to stop.
Critical Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning:
- Unconsciousness or inability to rouse the person
- Mental confusion or stupor
- Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute, but everyone is different! One person could be in danger at 9 breaths per minute, while another is fine at 7. Never hesitate to call 911!)
- Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature), cold/clammy skin, pale or bluish skin/lips
What Should I do if I Think Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?
- Know the danger signs
- Do not wait for all symptoms to be present. The person's BAC can continue to rise while they are passed out. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine or will sleep it off.
- If the person is conscious or semi-conscious, roll them on their side. This will help prevent them from choking on vomit.
- Never leave the person alone, unless you must leave to call 911
- Never assume the person is just sleeping. If you can not wake them, call 911!
- If there is any suspicion that a person has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Don't try to guess their level of intoxication.
What if someone has alcohol poisoning, but doesn't get help?
- The person could choke on his/her vomit and asphyxiate or develop aspirational pneumonia.
- Their breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops
- Heart beats irregularly or stops
- Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) can cause seizures and brain damage
- Severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death if left untreated
Alcohol & Other Drugs Resource Center
Seal Hall 208
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: (309) 298-2457
Hours: 8:00am - 4:00pm M - F