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How to help a drunk friend

Tips on what to do when a friend is very drunk


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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If a friend is very drunk they’re not going to be thinking straight. Although some people when very drunk can handle it quite well, others can become sick, aggressive or do things that they wouldn't normally do when sober. If you are out with a friend who is too drunk and an accident happens there are things you can do to help. 

Tips for helping a drunk friend

In an emergency

In a serious case of drunkenness, a person might lose consciousness (pass out). If this happens, put them in the recovery position (lying on their side), check that they’re breathing and that nothing is blocking their mouth (such as vomit or an ice cube) and call for help on 999 or 112.

Don’t leave the unconscious person, make somebody else go and call an ambulance if you can’t wake them up. If your friend isn’t breathing they need immediate help. Get someone to call an ambulance and shout for help from anyone who has first aid training.

If your friend is vomiting constantly or choking when they vomit then stay with them and get someone else to call an ambulance.

Leaving the club or pub

Try not to let drunken friends leave on their own or with a stranger. Insist on staying with them until you’re sure they get home safely. Do not leave your friend alone when they are drunk. Don’t try to walk the drunk person around.

Do not try to lecture the drunk person – confront their behaviour later when they are sober. If you’re worried about a friend drinking too much, talk to them about cutting back on alcohol when they are sober.

For sobering up, there is no substitute for time. It takes as many hours as the number of drinks taken and can take 24 hours or more for the after-effects of alcohol to wear off fully.

Don’t let a drunken friend or someone who has recently been drunk, drive home. Hide the car keys if you need to.

Worried about a friend's drinking?

If you are worried about a friend's drinking there are supports you can turn to for help. 

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Published September 8th, 2015
Last updated June 20th, 2018
Tags drink alcohol drugs
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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