Knowing how to properly care for a drunk person can sometimes be the difference between life and death for that person. When someone consumes too much alcohol, they’re at risk of injuring themselves or others, succumbing to possible alcohol poisoning, or potentially choking on their vomit in their sleep. To properly take care of a drunk person, you need to be able to identify the signs of alcohol poisoning, ensure the safety of that person, and take the correct steps to help them sober up the right way.
How to help a drunk person
Checking That They’re Safe
How to help a drunk person. Ask them how much they’ve had to drink
Knowing what they had to drink and how much of it can help you decide what the best course of action is. How much they drank, how fast they drank it, how big they are, their tolerance, and whether or not they ate before they drank can all influence how drunk they are. They may just need to sleep it off, but you can’t know that unless you know how much alcohol they consumed.
- Try asking something like, “How are you feeling? Do you know how much you drank? Did you have anything to eat today?” That can give you an idea of how much they consumed. If they’ve had more than 5 drinks on an empty stomach, they could be dangerously drunk and may require medical assistance.
- If they’re incoherent and unable to understand you, it could be a sign of alcohol poisoning. Get them to a hospital as soon as you can. If you’ve been drinking, do not drive. Call an ambulance or have a trustworthy sober person drive you and the drunk person to a hospital.
How to help a drunk person. Explain what you intend to do before you touch or approach a drunk person
Depending on how drunk the person is, they may be confused and disoriented and not fully understand what you’re trying to do. They may also not be thinking rationally, and if you try to force them to do something, it could cause them to be combative and possibly harm themselves or others. Always announce your intentions.
- If they’re hugging the toilet and appear to be having trouble, say something like, “Hey, I’m right here if you need anything. Let me help you keep your hair out of the way.”
- Don’t touch or move someone without asking them if it’s okay for you to do so.
- If they are passed out, try to wake them by calling out to them to make sure they’re conscious.
- If they don’t respond to any of your statements and appear to be unconscious, call for medical assistance immediately.
How to help a drunk person. Check for signs of alcohol poisoning
Alcohol poisoning can be fatal if it isn’t treated quickly and correctly. If they have pale skin, their skin feels cold and clammy to the touch, or they have slow or irregular breathing patterns, call an ambulance or take them to a hospital immediately. Additional signs of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, a general state of confusion, and loss of consciousness.
- If they have a seizure, their life could be in serious jeopardy. Don’t waste any time: call an ambulance or get them to a hospital as soon as possible.
How to help a drunk person. Get them to a safe place so they don’t injure themselves or others
If you know the person, try to get them home so they can sober up and aren’t going to hurt anybody. If you don’t know the person and you’re out in public, try to find someone who knows them to help keep them safe. If they’re too drunk to take care of themselves, they need to be brought to a safe place.
- Do not drive if you’ve been drinking and never let a drunk person drive a vehicle. Have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft to get home safely.
- Go to a place at which the person will feel comfortable and safe like your home, theirs, or a trusted friend’s home.
Making Sure They Sleep It off Safely
How to help a drunk person. Never allow a drunk person to fall asleep unattended
Their body will continue to absorb alcohol even after they’re asleep or passed out, which can lead to alcohol poisoning. They could also choke to death on their vomit if they fall asleep in the wrong position. Don’t assume that a drunk person will be fine once they fall asleep.
How to help a drunk person. Make sure they sleep on their side with a pillow behind them
If the person doesn’t appear to be at risk of alcohol poisoning, sleeping it off can give their body the time it needs to process the alcohol and remove it from their bloodstream. However, they could be at risk of vomiting while they sleep and choking on it. Always make sure they sleep on their side with a pillow behind them to keep them from rolling onto their back.
- They should be sleeping in a position where vomit would fall out of their mouth if they vomited in their sleep.
- Putting someone in the recovery position will keep their airway clear and open. It also ensures that any vomit or fluid won’t cause them to choke.
- Place a pillow in front of them to keep them from rolling onto their stomach and struggling to breath.
- Ensure the intoxicated individual is sleeping on their side with a pillow behind them to prevent them from rolling on their back or stomach.
How to help a drunk person. Wake them up every 5-10 minutes for the first hour
Even when they stop drinking alcohol, their body will continue to process the alcohol that they’ve already consumed. That means that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) could increase while they sleep. For the first hour that they fall asleep, wake them every 5-10 minutes and check for signs of alcohol poisoning.
- After the first hour, if they seem to be doing well, you can check on them once every hour or so
How to help a drunk person. Make sure someone stays with them through the night
If the person is extremely drunk, they should be monitored continuously to make sure they aren’t at risk of alcohol poisoning or choking on their vomit. Someone should be with them overnight to check their breathing.
- If you don’t know them, ask if you can call someone to come get them.
- Never let a drunk person watch another drunk person. If you’ve been drinking, have someone sober help you monitor them.
- If you’re at a restaurant or bar and you don’t know the drunk person, alert the staff that they have a drunk person on the premises who may need assistance. Don’t leave the person until you’re confident that someone will take care of them.
How to help a drunk person. Remember “M.U.S.T H.E.L.P”
Using this phrase will help you identify whether the drunk victim needs emergency help. Call 911 if more than 3 of these symptoms apply to the victim.
- M stands for ‘mental confusion’
- U stands for ‘unresponsive’
- S stands for ‘snoring or gasping for air’
- T stands for ‘throwing up’
- H stands for ‘hypothermia’
- E stands for ‘erratic breathing’
- L stands for ‘loss of consciousness’
- P stands for ‘paleness/blueness of skin’
- If the person is awake, dial 800-222-1222 (in the United States) and you’ll be connected to your local poison control center. The staff at a poison control center or an emergency call center can advise you on whether or not you should take the person to the hospital right away. Calls to poison control centers are kept private.
Helping Them Sober Up
How to help a drunk person. Stop them from drinking any more alcohol
If they’re already very drunk, consuming additional alcohol puts them in danger of alcohol poisoning. Continuing to drink will also further impair their judgment and could cause them to injure themselves or others.
- Try to be direct and refuse to give them any more alcohol. Tell them something like, “Listen, I think you’ve had too much, and I’m a little worried. I can’t give you any more.”
- To avoid conflict with a belligerent drunk person, try distracting them with a non-alcoholic drink or by putting on a song or movie that they like.
- If you can’t get the person to listen to you, try to have someone close to them talk them out of drinking any more alcohol.
- If you’re unable to get them to listen to you, and you’re worried they may become violent or could injure themselves or others, call the police.
How to help a drunk person. Give them a glass of water
Water will help dilute the concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream and help them sober up quicker. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, so giving them water will help them feel better the next day as well.
- Have them drink a full glass of water before they lie down.
- Give them sports beverages like Gatorade to replace the sodium and electrolytes that their body may have depleted while drinking.
How to help a drunk person. Give them plain food
Give them a light meal to absorb the alcohol. Salmon is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids, making it a healthy food option. Bread, crackers, sandwiches, and pasta are carb-heavy foods that are typically easy to digest, which is what the victim requires during a drunken state.
- Be sure not to give them so much food that they overeat and vomit.
- If they don’t have a huge appetite, try salty snacks like peanuts or pretzels.
- It’s a myth that eating tacos, pizza, or burgers will help you “soak up” the alcohol. Avoid giving this to the person you’re caring for.
How to help a drunk person. Avoid giving them coffee unless it’s necessary
It’s often been said that drinking a cup of coffee will help sober somebody up. However, while a cup of joe will make them more awake, it doesn’t lower the amount of alcohol in their bloodstream. Additionally, the caffeine in the coffee can dehydrate them, which can slow down their body’s ability to process the alcohol and increase the negative effects of a hangover.
- Black coffee can irritate their stomachs and cause them to vomit if they’re not used to drinking it.
How to help a drunk person. Don’t try to get them to throw up
Forced vomiting won’t reduce the alcohol that is in their bloodstream, so all it will do is lower their fluid levels and cause them to be further dehydrated. If they’re dehydrated, it will take longer for their body to process and filter the alcohol out of their system.
- If they feel the need to vomit, then stay with them so they don’t fall and hurt themselves. Vomiting is a natural way for their body to try to expel any alcohol that could still be in their stomach.
How to help a drunk person. Allow enough time to pass for them to sober up
Once alcohol is in the bloodstream, the only way to get it out is to give their body the time it needs to process it and filter it out. It takes about 1 hour for the body to process 1 drink. There are a variety of factors that determine how long someone needs for their body to fully process the alcohol out of their bloodstream, but it’s the only way to fully remove the effects of alcohol.
- On average, the effects of alcohol last for around 6 hours.
- Even a full night’s rest can sometimes not be enough to fully process the alcohol they consumed. They should not be allowed to operate a vehicle if they still feel the effects.
Help Your Loved One Reclaim Their Life From Alcoholism
We Level Up California can provide to you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from alcoholism with professional and safe detox and treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.