You and your 18-year-old friend go to a party. You didn’t know there would be alcohol there. You decide to stay since you both agree not to drink. You’re having fun and lose track of time when suddenly you realize your friend has been drinking and doesn’t look so good. As your friend pukes on your shoes and drifts in and out of consciousness, you panic and debate what to do. Should you call 9-1-1? You don’t want anyone to get in trouble for underage drinking! Maybe some coffee or a cold shower will help? Every minute you waste puts your friend at risk. Know what to do. Call 9-1-1 first.
Underage drinking is dangerous. It often involves binge drinking, which can cause alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning happens when someone drinks too much alcohol and it affects the body’s vital functions (breathing, consciousness, heart rate, temperature). Many myths claim to help when someone has had too much to drink, but most are not effective and some can be harmful.
· Call 9-1-1. You and your friend will NOT get in trouble, even if you both are underage drinking.
· Stay with the person until help arrives.
· Have the person slowly drink water if they are able.
· If the person is unconscious, lay them on their side with their arms over their head.
· Give the person coffee (caffeine can make them more dehydrated).
· Offer food (they could vomit or choke).
· Give any medication (it could interact with the alcohol).
· Make the person throw up (they could choke).
· Put the person in a cold shower (it can cause hypothermia).
· Let the person sleep it off (they could get worse).
· Allow the person to drink more alcohol.
The Good Samaritan Law in Vermont protects underage drinkers who need medical assistance. If you get help for someone who has been drinking (or overdosed on drugs), neither of you will be prosecuted for illegal possession and use. The police want to keep people safe and alive. Do not be afraid to call 9-1-1 if someone is in danger.
For more information on alcohol poisoning, go to: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm
Not sure where to start? Get free, confidential help 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or visiting vermont211.org. Information and referral specialists are also available by texting your zip code to 898211, Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM.
Article written by Rachel Newton, Regional Prevention Partnerships Coordinator, Rutland Regional Medical Center.
Partners for Prevention is a community network dedicated to sustainable substance abuse prevention efforts for Rutland County youth and young adults. Stay connected by liking the Partners for Prevention on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/partnersforprevention