Know the Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

How literate are you in reading symptoms of alcohol poisoning?

Confusion…in a stupor…not responsive…vomiting…seizures (sometimes)…breathing difficult…low body temperature…change in skin color (blue, ashen)…

To sum it all up, here are the A-B-C-D-E of the symptoms:

Awake. Attempt to wake the person up. Call out his or her name, shake them, or pinch their skin. If they don’t respond, turn and keep the person on his or her side, so that they do not choke on their vomit.

Breathing. Check the person’s breathing. If there are fewer than eight full breaths in one minute or more than 10 seconds between an inhale and an exhale, their respiratory system is slowing down rapidly and they need immediate medical attention.

Circulation. Check the person’s pulse. If you cannot find a pulse on the wrist, it may be because the person was lying on his or her arm so you’ll need to check their neck for the pulse. Also, check to see if skin is cold, clammy, or blue or grayish in color.

Do not leave the person alone, ever! Keep them lying on their side so they do not choke on their vomit.

Emergency assistance. If you discover any of the above problems, stay with the person and have someone else call 911. Stay with the person until help arrives. Be prepared to give the emergency medical personnel as much information as possible, including any drugs or medications the person might have taken.

What not to do: Don’t just let them sleep it off! They may not wake up!

According to the OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin, September 2012, about 50,000 people suffer from alcohol poisoning each year, and some die as a result. The Mayo Clinic states that one of the most dangerous causes of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. Teens and college students, most of whom are first-time or inexperienced drinkers, are the most likely to binge drink. The Center for Disease Control says that 90% of all alcohol consumed by youth 12-20 years of age is in the form of binge drinking.

Do the right thing. Calling 911 is not a crime.

About the Author:

Renee Rust-Yarmuth is Sullivan University’s certified wellness director/ advisor and labyrinth facilitator, as well as a licensed marriage and family therapist in Indiana. She also serves as a non-denominational chaplain at Sullivan’s Louisville campus.

When not working, she loves to read on either her Kindle or hardbound books, visit family (favorites are grandchildren!), play Scrabble, work out at Curves, and do leadership and service activities in the Rotary Club of East Louisville Sunrise. From her wellness advising over the past 10 years at Sullivan, she has developed a part-time practice as a relationship wellness advisor, emphasizing the “contours of relationship” – as if she were a poet, which she is (published)!

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