How to Help a Drunk Person?

How to Help a Drunk Person? If you suspect that you or someone you know has developed an alcohol dependency, it is very important that medical advice is sought. People who see a doctor for help to cut down on their alcohol consumption may benefit from the following: Understanding Alcohol Abuse Alcohol addiction can be a […]

How to Help a Drunk Person?

If you suspect that you or someone you know has developed an alcohol dependency, it is very important that medical advice is sought. People who see a doctor for help to cut down on their alcohol consumption may benefit from the following:

  • Your doctor will help you work out a drinking goal. It may take time to completely cut down, so it may be helpful to gradually cut down by setting weekly goals;
  • Some people may benefit from seeing an addiction specialist to learn more tips how to help a drunk person;
  • Some people may benefit from seeing a mutual help group; and
  • For people highly dependent on alcohol, detoxification and medically-managed alcohol withdrawal may be necessary.

Understanding Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol addiction can be a lonely disease that an afflicted person will carry for the rest of their life. Family plays a huge role in helping someone with a substance abuse problem get treatment and stay sober following treatment. When your loved one is in addiction recovery, there are a number of things you can do to help them stay sober. These tips are forever helpful on how to help a drunk person, but especially for the first few months and years of recovery.

Stages of Being Drunk

For most people, the effects of alcohol at various levels of drunkenness are as follows:

  • BAC below 0.06: A person may not notice any effects, or they might experience slight changes in mood. Some people feel relaxed or sleepy. Coordination and reflexes begin to decline.
  • BAC 0.07–0.09: People may feel relaxed. They may feel more talkative or euphoric and less inhibited. In most states, having a BAC of 0.07–0.09 means that a person is legally drunk and cannot safely drive.
  • BAC 0.09–0.15: At this point, a person may begin slurring their speech. They may still feel happy and euphoric, though some people feel sick. Reaction times are much slower, and a person may stumble. Driving is now unsafe.
  • BAC 0.16–0.30: At this level of alcohol intoxication, a person is severely impaired. They may have very poor judgment, be unable to remember everything that happens, and be unable to fully understand the consequences of their actions. They may vomit or blackout and are at risk of alcohol poisoning.
  • BAC 0.30–0.39: A person likely has alcohol poisoning. Their situation may be life threatening.
  • BAC 0.40–0.50: A person may lose consciousness. Their body temperature may drop and their heart rate may change. The heart is in danger of stopping or failing. The risk of a coma is high.
  • BAC 0.50+: The risk of death is very high, especially if the person does not receive immediate medical attention. Their heart may stop.

The amount of alcohol a person drinks is the biggest predictor of BAC. The more a person drinks, the higher their BAC will be. However, other factors also affect BAC. For example, women and people with more fatty tissue have more rapid increases in BAC. Having a small body size also means that BAC may rise at a quicker pace.

Some other factors that may cause BAC to increase more quickly include:

  • How quickly someone drinks
  • Whether or not a person drinks on an empty stomach
  • The strength of the drink a person consumes
  • Whether or not a person uses other drugs, including some prescription drugs
  • How fast a person’s body metabolizes alcohol

For most people, a single drink — for example, 1.5 ounces (oz) of hard liquor, 12 oz of beer, or 5 oz of wine — will elevate blood alcohol by 0.06 or 0.07 per drink. This means that consuming four to five alcoholic drinks in a short amount of time may be enough to put a person at risk of alcohol poisoning, or even death. A single drink may put a person over their state’s BAC limit for driving.

Alcohol tolerance can affect the extent to which a person feels intoxicated. People who frequently drink may feel less drunk than those who do not. People with alcohol use disorder may not feel drunk at all, even when their BAC is very high. [1]

How to Help a Drunk Person?
Alcohol abuse is a serious problem. It is a pattern of drinking too much alcohol too often. It interferes with your daily life. 

How to Help a Drunk Person Sober Up

The first important step for helping in an acute intoxication situation is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication, make observations and make an assessment regarding the severity of the situation. Signs include:

  • Alcohol odour coming from their skin or clothing
  • Coordination and troubles balancing and walking
  • Slurred speech and difficulty conversing
  • Nausea and vomiting; and
  • Flushed face

Seizures can result from alcohol intoxication or from the withdrawal of alcohol for people who are dependent. If the seizure is believed to be due to alcohol intoxication, it is important that the person be treated medically – call an ambulance.

How to Help an Alcoholic

How to help a drunk person and how to recognize emergency situations? There are little steps that can be taken to help an intoxicated individual avoid serious health consequences as a result of too much alcohol. You can help by:

  • Continually monitoring the person who is drunk. If you do not know the drunk person, you can ask if you can call anyone to come and get them. If inside commercial premises (e.g. a restaurant or bar), ensure any staff are aware that the person is drunk;
  • Check and monitor the breathing of the person who is drunk;
  • Make sure the intoxicated person does not slip from sleeping to unconsciousness by waking them often. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can rise even when someone has stopped drinking alcohol – this means that “sleeping it off” is not safe;
  • Ensure the intoxicated individual is sleeping on their side with a pillow behind them to prevent them from rolling on their back. This will prevent them from choking on their vomit.
  • Never let one drunk person look after another drunk person.
  • Never allow an intoxicated individual drive a car, swim or ride a bike.

If the intoxicated individual vomits continually, displays irregular slow breathing, cold pale skin, or loses consciousness, it becomes an emergency situation and an ambulance should be called immediately. [2]

Alcohol Overdose and the Bacchus Maneuver

How to help a drunk person by positioning them? If someone passes out from drinking too much, you can help by positioning them so they will not choke on their vomit. The Bacchus maneuver below is a position to put someone in while you wait for medical personnel to arrive. It is NOT something to use and then leave someone hoping they will be okay. Anytime you are using the Bacchus Maneuver, you should also be calling 911.  IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT USE THE BACCHUS MANEUVER OR TRY TO ADJUST SOMEONE WHO HAS FALLEN AND MAY HAVE SUSTAINED A SPINAL CORD INJURY. AGAIN, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

How to Help a Drunk Person with the Bacchus Maneuver

  1. Raise the arm that is closest to you above their head. Prepare to roll them toward you.
  2. Gently roll them toward you, guarding their head from hitting the floor. The head should rest in front of the arm, not on it. 
  3. Tilt the head up to maintain airway. Tuck their nearest hand under the cheek to help maintain head tilt and raise the face off the floor.
  4. How to help a drunk person? Check on them often.

You may have heard of ‘Backpacking’ or ‘Jansporting’ when a person puts a backpack on someone to prevent them from rolling over on their back and choking on their own vomit. Unfortunately, this is NOT an effective way how to help a drunk person or to prevent choking and can even be dangerous. Why?

  1. The most important thing to prevent choking is keeping the airway open. A backpack may prevent someone from rolling over on their back, but it does not necessarily mean that their head is placed in a way that maintains an open airway. 
  2. If a backpack is placed on someone who is too intoxicated, it is likely they will not know they have it on when they wake up. When they try to stand, this may cause them to fall or fumble which increases risk of head injury. 
  3. While this seems like an easy solution, backpacking can encourage a false sense of safety in which one forgets or neglects to monitor the person. Even if the intoxicated person is in a position that prevents them from choking, it does not mean they aren’t at risk for other medical emergencies related to alcohol poisoning. 

The bottom line on how to help a drunk person: If a person is intoxicated enough that they are passed out and you are concerned about them choking on their own vomit, then you should not leave them alone and immediately call 911 to have them medically assessed. [3]

Responding to Alcohol Overdose

What are the Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning, caused by too much alcohol, is extremely dangerous and can cause coma and death. For you to know when and how to help a drunk person, check the signs that may include:

  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Passing out, not being able to be woken up
  • Slow, irregular breathing
  • Bluish or pale, cold, clammy skin
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Vomiting while passed out

What do I do?

When someone is passed out from alcohol poisoning:

  • Gently roll the person on his or her side, tilting the head back and tucking the top hand under the chin to keep the mouth open and the airway clear. This helps to reduce the risk of choking if the person vomits. Bend the person’s top leg and bottom arm to support this position
  • Do not leave the person alone
  • How to help a drunk person? Call 911 if you cannot wake the person, especially if he or she is vomiting or has vomited

How to Help a Drunk Person Feel Better?

When someone consumes too much alcohol, they need time and rest to sober up. Even so, there are some ways to improve impairment, in the short term, at least. At the same time, it is critical to recognize that even if a person can improve their alertness and awareness, they must still not drive or make important decisions until the alcohol is completely out of their system.

How to Help a Drunk Person?
An alcoholic is known as someone who drinks alcohol beyond his or her ability to control it and is unable to stop consuming alcohol voluntarily. 

Depending on how much alcohol a person consumed, it can take several hours for alcohol to metabolize out of the body. When a person becomes intoxicated, they are more likely to get into dangerous situations. Depending upon the amount of alcohol consumed, an intoxicated individual is 2–10 times more likely to have an injury. Excessive amounts of alcohol can cause death through its depressant effect on the respiratory center of the brain. For this reason, it is important not to just label an intoxicated individual as a “drunk”, because in some cases it can be a serious and life-threatening issue.

How to help a drunk person and helping an intoxicated individual can be challenging. Often, the person may be confrontational, argumentative, and uncooperative. The individual may also be emotionally unstable and require some emotional support. While it is important to help an intoxicated person stay safe, the first priority must always be your personal safety. If an intoxicated individual becomes violent, then you should leave the scene and call the police.

How Can I Tell If My Friend Needs Help?

When someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is natural to want to help but to be unsure how. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are common in this situation. You may have tried talking to said loved one or offered various forms of help, but to no avail. You are not alone. Getting someone to admit that they have a problem and that they need to accept help is rarely a smooth and quick process. Persistence is the key. In due time, you can get your loved ones the help they need and deserve. Here are 8 tips [4] for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program and how to help a drunk person:

Find the Right Time to Talk

Increase your chances of getting through to your loved ones by trying to talk to them when they are as sober as possible. You want them to be able to think clearly about your conversation and to be able to react in a calm manner. Talking to someone when they are intoxicated may go poorly or they might even forget the conversation.

Typically, the morning or after a major drug-related incident is the best time to try and talk to someone with a drug or alcohol addiction. After an incident, they may be particularly vulnerable and receptive to getting help. Additionally, whether you plan on having a one-on-one conversation or an intervention, making plans to have a tough conversation in the morning is a safe bet.

Be Intentional with What You Say

Words have power and they can either drive someone away or lead to a breakthrough. Before you even try sparking a conversation or leading an intervention, make sure that everyone involved thinks long and hard about the words they use. The words you use and the way you say them are critical. Rehearse what you have to say and how you plan on saying it. Focus on being warm and open in your voice, tone, and body language. If things start to take a negative turn, change the subject and resist any urge you may have to fight or argue.  

Understand the Recovery Process

Research addiction treatment so that you can speak intelligently about what treatment encompasses and what the different options are. Do you know what to expect from cocaine detox or how alcohol withdrawal symptoms are managed? Do you know the difference between IOP and PHP treatment? Look into different types of treatment and find a few different centers that you can present as options to your loved one. Consider the benefits of a holistic program that offers alternative addiction treatment.

Also, take the time to read through some stories written by those who have been through treatment or their families. This can help give you perspective on what to expect.

Become a Part of the Process

Get involved and let your loved one know that where possible, you will be by their side. Many treatment facilities include family therapy as a part of their program. In family therapy, you all can work through any underlying issues, as well as build better communication on how to help a drunk person.

You can also find an open Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting that you can attend together. Some people prefer to attend group support meetings without their families so that they can speak more openly, but others appreciate the familiar company. Don’t be afraid to ask if they want your company and then respect the decision.

Set and Maintain Boundaries

There is a fine line between supporting and enabling. To avoid crossing this line, set some boundaries. Make it clear that rehab and recovery mean they are expected to dedicate a certain amount of time to treatment programming. Offer support in the form of verbal affirmations, but make sure they contribute to their recovery in ways more than just showing up. This will help your loved ones help themselves. They will be forced to take their recovery seriously as well as take some of the pressure and stress off of you. 

Let Them Decide to Identify as an Addict

Don’t call your loved one an addict unless they have already identified themselves in this manner. It is up to the individual to designate how they identify. Additionally, saying “a person with an addiction” instead of “an addict” supports that they are more than their addiction and that this part of their life does not define their entire being.

Be Patient 

Becoming an addict doesn’t happen overnight and neither does recovery. Every step of this journey is going to be a process. Getting sober takes time and staying sober does not often happen on the first try. How to help a drunk person? There will be good days and bad, but consistency in your patience, love, and support will go a long way. This brings us to the last tip for getting your loved one into a drug and alcohol treatment program:

How to Help a Drunk Person?
Quitting alcohol on your own is harder for some than others, but there’s no need to go it alone, consider reaching out for professional support.

Don’t Give Up

An intervention does not always guarantee admission to a treatment program. If your first conversation doesn’t appear to change anything, you can never know for sure the effect it will have on their head. It might take 2 or 20 attempts before you make a breakthrough and even once your loved one does enter a drug and alcohol treatment program, this does not guarantee long-term sobriety. Relapse is always a possibility. There may be times when your loved ones will want to give up themselves and they may need you to keep trying for the both of you. Don’t give up. You and your love are powerful.

Alcohol Treatment

Having social support is very powerful in addiction recovery.  It can help recovering addicts stay motivated, be held accountable, or be relied on for practical assistance. You can also help someone in recovery by acting as a buffer in social situations. If you start to see any conflict or judgment coming from others, step in and change the subject or pull the person away by saying you need them in the other room.

Let’s say your son just went through alcohol detox last month and Uncle Jimmy starts asking why he wasn’t at grandma’s birthday party. All that is needed is a simple, “Honey, I need you in the kitchen to help me peel the potatoes.” Another example: If your sister is a recovering alcoholic, you may offer to join them the next time they go out with friends. Better yet, find things that you can do together that do not involve the old routines when your loved one used to drink. Look into a trip to a farm or simply go on a walk through the mall.

If your loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder and needs medical assistance on how to help a drunk person, contact a treatment center to get advice on how to get an alcoholic help. The best way to go about getting an addict admitted to a program is case by case and differs depending on a number of factors, but admissions specialists are professionals at walking you through this process.

If you think you or your loved one has a drug or alcohol addiction and you want to get them help or you want to learn how to help a drunk person, call We Level Up TX today.


[1] What does it feel like to be drunk? What you need to know on how to help a drunk person –
[2] Alcohol: How to Help a Drunk Person –
[3] Bacchus Maneuver –,-Raise%20the%20arm&text=The%20head%20should%20rest%20in,Check%20on%20them%20often.
[4] How Families Can Help With Alcohol Addiction RecoveryLevel Up Lake Worth