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Recognizing Alcohol Overdose/Poisoning

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning and Overdose

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 breathe 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 eight 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

What to do if you  notice someone exhibiting overdose symptomes:

Be a Vol, make the call! We are all Volunteers. We look out for each other.

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Stay with them
  • Keep them lying on their side
  • Remember to also:
    • Stay calm and use your judgment
    • Try to wake them
    • Do not give food or force fluids
    • If they can respond, ask about number of drinks, any health conditions, allergies, medications, etc.

Medical Amnesty

  • The University of Tennessee’s Student Code of Conduct provides protection from University disciplinary action for alcohol and/or other drugs when medical assistance is sought for an individual. Amnesty means that no formal disciplinary action is taken when a Good Samaritan: (1) contacts appropriate resources to report and request assistance and (2) demonstrates cooperation and care by remaining with the Impaired Student. Amnesty applies to the Impaired Student(s) and any Good Samaritan(s) under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs.
    • Impaired Student: student(s) in need of emergency medical attention due to alcohol or other substance use.
    • Good Samaritan: student(s) that seek help for the impaired student(s).