Health Education & Wellness

Alcohol Related Emergencies

The following situations are indicators that the individual needs IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL EVALUATION OR ASSISTANCE

The Individual

  • Is unable to stand or walk, or can do so only with difficulty
  • Is breathing slow (10 or less per minute) and shallow breaths
  • Is passed out or in a stupor
  • Has fever or chills
  • Has difficulty speaking
  • Has an injury
  • Is paranoid, confused, or disoriented
  • Is violent or threatening
  • Appears to be a risk to him/herself or others
  • Appears to be dehydrated, with a bluish tint to the lips and fingernails

Call for Police or Medical Help When

  • You are in doubt about what to do
  • You need transportation to medical facilities
  • The person you are assisting is rowdy or too unruly to handle
  • The person refuses assistance and appears likely to harm him/herself or others
  • The person has been using other drugs
  • The person attempts to drive

When You Call for Help

  • Identify yourself
  • Give your specific location
  • State that you have a problem with someone who has been drinking excessively


For the Immediate Care of an Intoxicated Person

What To Do What Not To Do
Stay calm. Assess the situation. DO NOT let your anxiety transfer to the individual in trouble.
Keep your distance. Before approaching or touching the person, explain what you intend to do. DO NOT try to walk, run, exercise the drunk person, or try to keep the person awake; DO NOT permit the person to drive.
Speak in a clear, firm, reassuring manner. DO NOT administer anything orally – food, liquid or drug – to sober the person up. THE ONLY THING THAT WILL SOBER A DRUNK PERSON IS TIME.
If possible, keep the person still and comfortable. DO NOT give the person a cold shower. The shock may cause him/her to pass out and sustain an injury.
Stay with the intoxicated person who is vomiting. Lay the person on his/her side. KEEP THE PERSON FROM SWALLOWING VOMIT. DO NOT attempt to constrain the person without sober assistance.
Monitor the person’s breathing. If they are breathing less than ten breathes per minute, DO NOT LEAVE THEM. DO NOT laugh, ridicule, provoke, anger, or threaten the individual.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning.

Be Wise. Know your C.U.P.S.

Cold Skin
Alcohol affects parts of the brain that maintain a healthy body temperature. Too much alcohol can stop this part of the brain from working and can cause your organs to shut down. People with alcohol poisoning can be cold to the touch.

When a person has consumed so much alcohol that they can’t function normally they may not be able to respond to anything. It’s like alcohol anesthesia.

Alcohol poisoning causes people to puke. Puking won’t lower a person’s BAC, but it can make a person even more dehydrated. Alcohol also inhibits a person’s gag reflex. This might make a person choke on their own vomit or breath it into their lungs.

Slow Breathing
Alcohol also affects the part of the brain that regulates breathing. Breaths can become slow, shallow and irregular. A person may even have fewer than 8 breaths per minute. If a person isn’t breathing enough, they aren’t getting enough oxygen to their brain.

C.U.P.S. was developed by Syracuse University

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