Alert

Alcohol and Drugs: When to Get Help for an Intoxicated Person

Overview

Signs that an intoxicated person might need medical attention include:

  • An injury. An intoxicated person may not feel pain normally. So he or she may not be aware of an injury or realize how serious it may be. It is not uncommon for an intoxicated person to vomit once. But an intoxicated person who is confused or not acting normally and vomits more than once may have a more serious problem, such as a head injury.
  • Decreasing consciousness. Tap or gently shake the person often and shout, "Are you okay?" He or she should get more alert as time passes. If the person is getting harder to arouse, it may mean that his or her condition is getting worse. Sometimes a person's condition may get worse because the alcohol or drugs haven't yet been completely absorbed into the body.

Most people can be cared for at home by family or friends when they are intoxicated. If you think that the intoxicated person's condition is getting worse and you are concerned that you can't provide a safe environment, seek medical help.

Here are some ways to help a person who is intoxicated.

  • Stop the person from taking more alcohol or drugs.

    You may have to remove the person from a bar or party. If he or she is at home, remove the alcohol or drugs from the house.

  • Stay with the person.

    Or have someone else stay with the person until his or her condition has improved.

  • Provide a safe place for the person to rest.

    Don't let the person drive a vehicle or operate machinery. Take steps to prevent falls.

  • Find out what the person has used.

    Find out if he or she has used alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription or nonprescription medicines.

    The use of alcohol with medicines or illegal drugs may increase the intoxicating effects each has on the body. You might want to call the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) for help if you don't know anything about any drugs that the person has taken.

  • Find out if the person has other health problems.

    Certain health problems could affect the person's condition. For example, diabetes or a seizure disorder could make the person seem to be intoxicated.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: November 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine