Pushing the limits of alcohol

January 17, 2020

On almost every college campus in America, whether you look up, down, left or right, parties seem like ubiquitous constants. At many of these parties, alcohol is present, and unfortunately, there are many students who do not think twice about the amount of alcohol they consume and the impact it has on their bodies. Maybe it’s one of your friends, who is embarrassingly uncoordinated and is yet incessant on playing beer pong over and over again, basically drinking the party dry. What are the signs that they are drinking too much alcohol, and what are some things that you could do for them to prevent them from drinking too much, and to help treat them when they do? Well, here are some things I learned the hard way. 

Alcohol is a depressant. This means that after consumption, it can slow the body down dramatically. This can lead to the various stereotypical signs of alcohol intoxication such as slurred speech, impaired movement and just general incoordination. It is relatively straightforward to tell when someone is intoxicated, especially if you are at a party and there is alcohol surrounding you. 

Treating someone who is intoxicated is more of a skill than it is a procedure. Not only do people react very differently to alcohol, but the more often you are around intoxicated people and assist them, the more comfortable and better you will be at dealing with these different types. 

Generally, one of the most important things you can do with a drunk person is to keep a close eye on them and make sure they do not lose consciousness or progress into alcohol poisoning. If they lose consciousness and cannot be woken up, put them on their side, tilt their head to the side and call an ambulance immediately.

In the case of your friend mentioned above, you will most likely just have to get them to stop playing beer pong and stop drinking, and to begin drinking water and eating food. They could also very likely vomit, so make sure that they have a trash can next to them (even if you don’t think they will). If they do vomit, make sure their airway is completely clear of vomit so that they can still breathe! 

Additionally, you should try to get your friend home safely, even if it means having them crash at your place for the night. What your friend needs is time, water and food. But remember that each person reacts to alcohol differently. While water and food does help most people when they are extremely intoxicated, giving food and water to someone could lead to bizarre reactions such as vomiting, which would simply make them more dehydrated. As noted before, it depends on the individual when it comes to treating alcohol intoxication.

One of the worst things you can do is to stick your friend in a cold shower. This does not expedite the body’s natural processes of getting rid of alcohol. Furthermore, one of the potential dangers of alcohol consumption is hypothermia, and sticking them in a cold shower when they’re becoming hypothermic is (hopefully obviously) a very bad idea. Some common signs of hypothermia include shivering, slow and shallow breathing and a weak pulse. If left in this state, hypothermia could lead to a complete failure of the cardiovascular and respiratory system, which quickly leads to death.

Now that you’ve dragged your friend away from the beer pong, which for some reason they thought they were winning, given them some food and water and safely brought them home, let them rest. After all, one of the only ways to get rid of the excess alcohol in someone’s system is simply time. The key to success in treating a person who is intoxicated is confidence. By experiencing what it is like to help someone who is drunk, you are one step closer to becoming the best baby-sitter at the party! 

(Note: These articles are good-faith attempts to be helpful to the Brandeis community and are by no means to be taken as universal. This article does not replace the advice of a medical professional. This article is not written on behalf of the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) and is not affiliated with BEMCo in any manner.)

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