Alcohol Poisoning and Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion for a man, and four or more drinks on one occasion for a woman, and can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Drinking a lot of alcohol really fast (like drinking games) pushes up the alcohol concentration in your blood and can lead decreased breathing, heart rate, level of consciousness, and potentially death. Death can also occur by asphyxiation, caused by a person choking on his or her own vomit.

Remember, passing out is not sleeping!

Signs of alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can occur even without all of the following signs:

  • Unconsciousness or semi-consciousness; the person cannot be awakened
  • Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute) or irregular breathing (with ten seconds or more between breaths)
  • Vomiting when unconscious and not waking up after vomiting

What to do for someone with signs of alcohol poisoning:

Call 911 immediately and

Do not leave the person alone!

  • Use the Bacchus Manoeuvre (see below) to roll the person on his or her side
  • NEVER leave the person on their back because they can choke on their vomit and die
  • Stay with them until help arrives
  • Monitor their breathing

Bacchus Manoeuvre

Step 1

Raise the person's closest arm above his or her head. Prepare to roll them toward you.

Bacchus Maneuver 1 Sketch (as described in the text)

Step 2

Gently roll the person's entire body. Guard their head as you roll them.

Bacchus Maneuver 2 Sketch (as described in the text)

Step 3

Tilt head up to maintain airway. Tuck nearest hand under cheek to help maintain head tilt.

Bacchus Maneuver 3 Sketch (as described in the text)

Step 4

Check the person often.