Wellness Resource Center
Wellness Resource Center


Alcohol Poisoning

What is alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is when your body shuts down due to excessive amounts of alcohol. Alcohol slows down many of the function of the body including blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. If a person has put a large amount of alcohol in his or her system, the slowing down can lead to passing out and unconsciousness- and the vital organs, heart and lungs can be slowed to the point of stopping.

It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.

You should also know that a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even while he or she is passed out. Even after a person stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. It is dangerous to assume the person will be fine by sleeping it off.

Signs that someone might have alcohol poisoning:

  1. They are unconscious/semi-conscious
  2. They are vomiting while sleeping or passed out
  3. Their skin is cold, clammy, pale, or bluish
  4. They are nonresponsive to their name or to pinching their skin
  5. Their breathing is slow (less than 8-9 breaths per minute) or irregular (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  6. Their heart is beating irregularly or stops completely
  7. What to do if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning

what to do Call 911 for help. If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, it is imperative to call 911. Every minute makes a difference in the health of your friend.

While waiting for medical help gently turn them on their side and maintain that position by placing a pillow in the small of their back and between their legs. This is important to prevent choking should they vomit. Stay with them until medical help arrives.

Some students are concerned that they might get their friend or themselves in trouble for calling 911 if they are underage. Although there is a small risk of legal trouble, none of the consequences compare to losing a life and losing a friend.

Alcohol Laws

Illegal Possession of Alcohol
Any person under the age of 21 that purchases, asks for, or in any way receives intoxicating liquor can be charged with a misdemeanor.

Use or Possession of a Fake ID
Any person who is less than 21 years of age, who uses a reproduced, modified, or altered license for the purpose of purchasing, asking for or in any way receiving any intoxicating liquor can be charged with a misdemeanor.

Open Container
Any person who possesses an open container of alcohol on any street, sidewalk or city parking facility could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Selling Alcohol without a License
It shall be unlawful for any person to sell alcohol, in any quantity, without acquiring a liquor license. If you sell alcohol at or charge admission to a party, the person accepting the money could be charged with selling liquor without a license. Sentences for this violation involve up to two years in prison and/or fines of up to $1,000. If the alcohol is served to a minor, the server could also be charged with supplying alcohol to a minor.

Keg Registration
All retailers selling beer kegs must register the keg and affix a seal on the keg at the time of sale. The retailer will log the purchaser's name, address, and the acknowledgement of proper use and care of the keg. If a keg is confiscated by the police at a party at which underage persons have consumed alcohol, the purchaser of the keg can be identified-and arrested or fined-for supplying alcohol to underage persons. If a keg is returned with an ID tag defaced or missing, the deposit fee required at the time of sale is forfeited.

The legal BAC limit for DWI is .08. Those under 21 could be found guilty of a Zero Tolerance violation if their BAC is above .02. Consequences could include: fines, license revocation, classes, community service, and jail time, as well as misdemeanor or felony charges on one's record.

Abuse and Lose Law
In Missouri, anyone under 21 years old and operating a motor vehicle with either alcohol or illegal drugs in their possession can have their driver's license revoked for 90 days. The Abuse and Lose law also requires that your license be revoked for 90 days if you commit any of the following offenses: any alcohol related traffic offense; possessing or using an illegal drug; altering a driver's license; trying to use someone else's driver license. Second and subsequent offenses result in a one year license suspension.

Minor in Possession by Consumption Law
Provides that any person under the age of 21, who purchases or attempts to purchase, or has in his or her possession, any intoxicating substance is guilty of a misdemeanor. This act provides that a minor is also guilty of a misdemeanor for a "minor in possession" if he or she is "visibly intoxicated" or has a detectable blood alcohol content of .02.

Party Safe

Throwing a party is a great opportunity to spend time with friends and meet new people. But a party or event that started as a blast can end badly for everyone if you are not prepared to deal with issues related to guests' alcohol consumption and other behaviors.If a critical incident (such as injury, property damage or illegal activity) occurs at an event you are hosting, you could face civil and criminal charges in addition to campus consequences. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself on how to plan and host a fun and safe event.

START is a free Student Alcohol Responsibility Training program that will increase your skills and knowledge of how to host a fun and safe party. Click below to learn more about how to plan a safe event and become START certified.