When you’re headed out the door to enjoy a night of fun, chances are the last thing on your mind is that you and your friends may be headed for danger. Alcohol poisoning leads to thousands of deaths each year. Even worse, a large percentage of those deaths occur simply because friends and/or family did not recognize the symptoms and get help.
Alcohol – the easiest drug for our kids to obtain. Friends, older brothers and sisters, and – unfortunately – some parents will buy it for their teens. After all, “it’s a right of passage” … “I drank, and I’m okay” … “my parents served it to us."
But here are the facts: the earlier a child starts to drink, the more likely that heavy alcohol use will stay with him or her for the rest of their lives. The younger a child is when they take their first drink, the higher the chance that they will become an alcoholic.
- If your child begins drinking before the age of 15, they have a 40 percent chance of becoming an alcoholic.
- If they start before 17, the chances drop to 24.5 percent.
- And if they wait until they’re 21, the legal drinking age, the chances drop to 10 percent.
Alcohol poisoning is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. A little responsibility can potentially save the life of someone you love.
What do I do if my friend is drunk?
- Make sure he or she stays safe.
- Don’t let your friend drink and drive. Call a sober adult or a cab to drive them home.
- Keep them from doing anything dangerous, like trying to walk home alone at night or starting a fight.
Protect yourself too!
- Don’t get in a car with someone who has been drinking, even if that person is your ride home. Ask a sober adult to drive you home instead, or call a cab.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
While it may seem funny at the time, a person who has passed out from drinking too much alcohol is now in a dangerous position. Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach and often causes severe vomiting. The nerves that control actions such as breathing and the gag reflex can be severely depressed. This can result in the person choking to death on his/her vomit. Contrary to popular belief, a person who has passed out from too much alcohol is not “sleeping it off” — blood alcohol concentration can rise whether they are conscious or not.
- Irregular breathing
- Severe mental confusion
- Cannot be woken up
- Heavy vomiting
- Unusually low body temperature
- Extremely pale/bluish skin color
What can happen to your friend if they are left to “sleep it off”?
Permanent brain damage, from seizures, and DEATH.
What to do if you suspect alcohol poisoning?
Call 911 emergency services and wait for help to arrive.
For more information on how to keep your kids alcohol free, please visit www.AllianceforSafeKids.org.