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Acute Alcohol Poisoning

'Passing Out' Could Indicate Danger

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Updated June 20, 2014

Acute Alcohol Poisoning
Eva Mueller Collection/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Do you know the signs of acute alcohol poisoning? Do you know what to do if someone is suffering from its effects?

Your friend who had way too much to drink, may not just be sleeping it off. If he or she is suffering from acute alcohol poisoning, as a result of drinking too much too quickly, they could die if you do not intervene.

How do you tell the difference between being passed out and alcohol poisoning?

If they are suffering from alcohol poisoning the person may be unconscious but cannot be awakened. If you try to wake your friend up and they do not respond check to see if they have cold, clammy, unusually pale or bluish skin. Check their breathing also.

If they are breathing slowly or irregularly -- less than eight times a minute -- or ten seconds or more between any two breaths, they are in trouble. Another sign is if they vomit while passed out and do not wake up during or after vomiting.

How Can You Help?

First call 9-1-1 immediately. Do not hesitate, don't think about any legal ramifications, your friend's life could depend on your quick response.

Do not leave the person alone and continue to try to revive them. Turn him or her on their side, so that if they do vomit they will be less likely to choke on it. Yeah, it's gross, but many deaths result from drunks choking on their own vomit.

Watch their breathing closely. If they stop breathing be prepared to perform CPR. If you don't know how to perform CPR, try to find someone who does. See How To Perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

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