Ellington Youth Services

Teens, Tips & Transitions Resources

Alcohol & Peer Pressure - What You Should Know

Alcohol Poisoning Facts

Facts About Alcohol Poisoning 
Many times teens are faced with the situation of themselves or a friend who has had so much to drink that they are on their way to suffering from alcohol poisoning. Some people laugh at the behavior of others who are drunk. Some think it's even funnier when they pass out. But there is nothing funny about the aspiration of vomit leading to asphyxiation or the poisoning of the respiratory center in the brain, both of which can result in death.
Alcohol is a poison. The symptoms of hanover (groggy, splitting headache, dehydration, and vomiting) are signs of alcohol poisoning.
Common myths about sobering up include drinking black coffee, taking a cold bath or shower, sleeping it off, or walking it off. But these are just myths, and they don't work. The only thing that reverses the effects of alcohol is time-something you may not have if you are suffering from alcohol poisoning. And many different factors affect the level of intoxication of an individual, so it's difficult to gauge exactly how much is too much.
What Happens to Your Body When You Get Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. 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.
Critical Signs for Alcohol Poisoning

• Mental confusion, stupor, coma, or person cannot be roused.
• Vomiting.
• Seizures.
• Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
• Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
• Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness.

What Should I Do If I Suspect Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning?

• Know the danger signals.
• Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
• Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.
• If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help.
Don't try to guess the level of drunkenness.

What Can Happen to Someone With Alcohol Poisoning That Goes Untreated?

• Victim chokes on his or her own vomit.
• Breathing slows, becomes irregular, or stops.
• Heart beats irregularly or stops.
• Hypothermia (low body temperature).
• Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures.
• Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage, or death.

Even if the victim lives, an alcohol overdose can lead to irreversible brain damage. Rapid binge drinking (which often happens on a bet or a dare) is especially dangerous because the victim can ingest a fatal dose before becoming unconscious.

Don't be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. Don't worry that your friend may become angry or embarrassed-remember, you cared enough to help. Always be safe, not sorry.


Tips on Peer Pressure

Tips on Peer Pressure
Alcohol gives us a fake sense of having fun, appearing sophisticated, and being a good communicator.
Where do we get these false images? From the alcohol ads and from movies. They aren’t presenting reality. Just ask one of the 6.6 million children under the age of 18 who live with an alcoholic mother or father.
If you’ve tasted alcohol, think of the first time you tried it. What did you think of it? When I ask people that question, most of them reply, “I hated it,” or “It was gross” or “yuck” or “horrible.” I then ask if they ever tried alcohol again if they disliked the taste so much? We don’t try a food we hate a second time.
Why do we ever try alcohol again, knowing we don’t like it?
One reason and one reason only: PEER PRESSURE. Our friends are drinking. Or someone tells us it is cool. Or we think it’ll make us look grown-up. DON’T FALL FOR THIS WAY OF THINKING! NOTHING THAT YOU DRINK WILL MAKE YOU COOL! YOU ARE WHAT’S COOL-YOUR REAL SELF! NOT THE FAKE PERSON THAT ALCOHOL MAKES YOU TO BE.
The alcohol industry knows that to attract young drinkers, especially females, they need a sweet taste; so they add lots of fruit flavor and sugar to the liquor so that you can’t taste the alcohol. Isn’t that nice of them? They take away the bad taste for us because they like us so much-right? Yeah sure. What they like is our money! Here are some helpful responses when you want to decline alcohol:

  • Simply Say No. Saying “no thanks” is a good start. If that doesn’t work, you can try other responses.
  • Suggest a better idea. (“I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t we go to that new movie that just came out?”)
  • Change the subject. (Let’s talk about what we want to do this summer. I want a clear head. Should we go to camp, get a job, or what?”)
  • Act Shocked. This is usually an effective response. (“I didn’t know you drank! Your parents will kill you if they find out”)
  • Make a joke.

The following lines can deflect pressure in a funny way:
 “I never drink before I’m drunk.” (By the time they scratch their head and figure that one out, you can be on your merry way!) 
“Not my brand.”
 “I’d rather hang loose than hangover.”
 “I don’t need booze to loosen up. I just got it together.”
 “I’m allergic-makes my skin turn purple and I look like Barney.” 
“If I drank that, I’d probably forget where I parked my brain.” 
"You want me to barf all over your car? I don't think so."