Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

Even though you now understand the fundamentals of alcohol and how to use standard drink sizes to maintain a BAC at or below 0.055, sometimes you or someone you know might consume too much alcohol. How can you recognize if someone has had just a little too much to drink or if their level of intoxication might warrant a trip to the hospital? Look for the following signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Passed out, unresponsive, or unable to stay conscious.
  • Fewer than 12 breaths/minute (depressed breathing or irregular pulse).
  • Vomiting while passed out.
  • Cool/clammy skin.
  • Pale/bluish skin, especially around the lips or under the fingernails.
  • Inability to walk or lack of physical coordination.
  • Uncontrolled peeing or pooping.
  • Seizures.
  • Confusion or disorientation.

When someone is showing these symptoms, they may be at risk of death or permanent injury. Remember that a person does not need to show ALL of these signs to have alcohol poisoning. If you are unsure... call for help.

  • On or off-campus, call 911 and put the individual in the recovery position (below).

  • If you dial 911 from a non-campus phone, you will be connected with Broome County 911 and you can ask for Harpur's Ferry.

  • If the person may have used opiates in any form, including pain pills, administering Naloxone can reverse an overdose.

  • Stay with the person until help arrives and keep the person awake, if possible.

  • For people who are conscious and able to swallow, try to get them to slowly drink water.

Amnesty and Good Samaritan Policies

Binghamton University is committed to promoting the health, well-being and safety of all members of our community. As such, policies have been adopted that are intended to encourage students to seek emergency assistance for oneself or a fellow student regardless of the events occurring at the time the emergency occurred. 

Learn more about Binghamton University's Amnesty and Good Samaritan Policies.

Recovery Position:

Putting someone in the recovery position will keep the airway clear and open, and ensure that any vomit or fluid won't cause the person to choke. Carefully roll them onto their side with their arm over their head.

Recovery Position

Photo courtesy of University of Colorado Boulder.


Click here to view a video on how to put someone in the recovery position.

What not to do:

  • Do not attempt to feed the person who could choke on food.
  • Do not give the person any other medications; mixing drugs and alcohol will likely make the alcohol poisoning worse.
  • Do not force the person to throw up. The person's gag reflex may not work and it could cause choking.
  • Do not walk the other person around in an attempt to "walk it off"; reduced physical coordination could lead to falls or other accidental harm.
  • Do not put the person in a cold shower; it could lead to hypothermia.
    Do not let the person "sleep it off."