How to Find Out if You or a Friend Has Alcohol Poisoning, a Problem with Binge Drinking, or Addiction

Being “passed out drunk” isn’t always something you can sleep off. Alcohol Poisoning can be fatal.

First and foremost: if your friend is unconscious and you can’t get them to respond, take them to the hospital or call an ambulance immediately. If their breathing has slowed, they look pale or bluish, or feel very cool to the touch, they could be in danger of dying and you need to call 911.

If your friend is conscious, confused, or vomiting, call your local poison control center. They can help you decide what the next steps should be. It’s important to remember that even if they have stopped drinking for the moment, the alcohol in their stomach will still be contributing to rising levels in the bloodstream.

If it’s to the point that you have to call poison control or 911, maybe there’s a bigger problem.

Because alcohol has the inherent ability to reduce our ability to think clearly, it’s easy for anyone to “accidentally” drink more than they intended. Experiencing these symptoms can be frightening and after doing it once, many times people have no interest in doing it again. Yet, an association of college presidents agrees: students who have a problem with binge drinking are the number one concern on their campuses today.

This is what leads to alcohol poisoning, whether it’s a solitary event or a repetitious weekend problem with binge drinking: the high volume of alcohol in a short period of time “floods” the bloodstream and the body can’t keep up. While it might be a condition most people assume only happens on college campuses where weekend parties run rampant, alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone drinking anywhere. And it doesn’t matter if you “feel drunk” or not: those feelings are based on your perception and tolerance. Your bloodstream only reacts to the concentration levels of the alcohol flowing through your veins. It’s quite possible not to “feel drunk” while poisoning your body at the same time.

A lifelong dependency on alcohol often begins with an addiction to binge drinking.
Say the words “addiction to alcohol” and you may imagine someone who drinks every day, who spends hours in a bar, or frequently gets pulled over for driving drunk. But these are not the only people out there with an addiction problem. It’s completely possible for the weekend binge drinker to become locked into an addiction pattern, unable to break free without some kind of intervention and rehabilitation.

Questions to ask to find out if you or a friend has an addiction to alcohol or binge drinking:

  • Do you experience black outs after drinking?
  • Do you have a tendency to hide the amount that you drink, from others?
  • Are you unable to relax unless you drink?
  • Could you have fun this weekend if there was no alcohol included?
  • Is it common for you to drink more than you intended?
  • Do you feel bad about your drinking habits?
  • Do you ever miss school or work, or neglect other responsibilities, because of drinking the night before?
  • Do you ever throw up after or while drinking?

It’s important to remember that an addiction to alcohol and/or binge drinking most often gets its start in a social setting. If your friends are doing it, you are more likely to as well. If you know your friend has had alcohol poisoning or is struggling with a problem with binge drinking, you can help encourage them towards rehab and recovery. Without change, they could die. To get more information on rehab programs that help people overcome a problem with addiction visit or call 800.560.8518.