Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning

Binge Drinking Defined

  • Binge Drinker: Male who consumed 5 or more drinks in a row; Female who consumed 4 or more drinks in a row.
  • Occasional Binge Drinker: Students who binge 1 or 2 times in a two week period.
  • Frequent Binge Drinker: Students who binge 3 or more times in a two week period

Facts About Binge Drinking

  • Frequent binge drinkers were 8 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to miss a class, fall behind in schoolwork, get hurt or injured, and damage property.
  • More than 60% of college men and 50% of college women who binge drink report that they drink and drive.
  • Binge drinking during college may be associated with mental health disorders such as compulsiveness, depression or anxiety, or early deviant behavior.
  • In a national study 91% of women and 78% of men who were frequent binge drinkers considered themselves to be moderate.
  • Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Binge Drinking on a College Campus

  • According to a 1997 national study nearly half of all college students surveyed drank four or five drinks in one sitting in the previous two weeks.
  • 39% of college women compared to 50% of college men binge drank within a two week period.
  • Frequent binge drinkers consume 72% of all alcohol that college students drink.
  • Each year, college students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol (mostly beer). This is more than they spend on books, soda, coffee, juice and milk combined. On a typical campus the average student will spend $466 annually on alcohol.

Alcohol Poisoning: What can happen?

  • Victim can choke on their own vomit
  • Breathing slows down or stops
  • Heart beats become irregular of stop
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature, leads to cardiac arrest)
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, leads to seizures)
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Many times the victim because of binge drinking does not realize that he/she has taken a fatal dose until it is too late

Critical Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
  • No response when pinching the skin.
  • Vomiting while sleeping.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing (less than eight per minute).
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds of more between breaths).
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.

Bystanders' Responsibility

  • Know the danger signs.
  • Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
  • Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.
  • Don't try to guess the level of drunkenness, call 911 if in doubt.

What to Do if You Suspect Alcohol Poisoning

  • Call 911 or the Emergency Medical Number.
  • Stay with the victim.
  • Keep the victim from choking on vomit.
  • Tell emergency medical technicians the symptoms and if you know how much alcohol the victim drank. Prompt action may save the life of a friend, or your own.

Common Myths About Alcohol Poisoning

  • Drinking black coffee will help.
  • Taking a cold shower will help.
  • Walking it off will help.
  • Sleeping it off will help.
  • These conventional treatments do not help: pumping the stomach, syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting, activated charcoal, narcan (to reverse the effects of central nervous system depressant).