We all have that one friend who can't hold their liquor or ends up always drinking too much, leaving you and the rest of your group on babysitting duty.
There's not much you can do with a stumbling, bumbling, muttering drunk except trying to get some water down their throat to help mitigate the horror that will be their hangover the following morning. Then you get them out of the cold and plop them down on a couch or bed and call it a night.
And although that sounds like drunk-friend-caretaking 101, and it is, that last bit is where things get tricky. Because depending on just how smashed your pal is, leaving them to "sleep it off" could ultimately kill them.
Unfortunately this happened to 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver, a pledge at Louisiana State University who died at a late night frat party. His blood-alcohol level was .495, a shocking 6 times the legal limit in most US states. Gruver had passed out and his buds in the frat figured he was just too sauced, so they let him try and sleep it off. They didn't take him to the hospital until the next morning - he was pronounced dead.
This study conducted by The University of Virginia delineates the dangers behind alcohol poisoning and why leaving a blacked out drunk alone is a bad idea. That's because their blood alcohol levels can keep rising well after they've finished drinking, opening them up to falling into a coma, not breathing, or choking on their own vomit.
Old school tricks like taking cold showers, drinking coffee, or eating steak egg and cheese sandwiches won't cut it, either. So what should you do when someone's out cold after a night of drinking? You don't want to always call for an ambulance just because Clarence can't handle his booze, right?
Thankfully, there are some signs to let you know when someone's blood alcohol levels have reached potentially life threatening levels. If they've vomited while passed out, or aren't responding when you pinch or shake them, or if their breathing is irregular or slow, or if their skin is cold to the touch, clammy, then you should seek professional help for them right away.
There are some other simple things you can do for your inebriated buddy, like the 'Bacchus' move. Turn the person on their left side with their left arm under their head like a pillow, then put their right leg forward to stabilize their body. This will help clear their airway and ensure they're breathing properly.
According to the Mayo Clinic if someone's taking more than 10 seconds between breaths while passed out, then their blood alcohol levels are more than likely at dangerous levels.
And if you're an underage drinker who's afraid of calling 911 for fear of getting in trouble, hospitals are obligated to protect the privacy of patients. In fact, it's illegal for a doctor to report back to a university if a student visited the emergency room and divulge the reason why. So err on the side of caution: if you believe someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, call an ambulance.
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