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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Alcohol Misuse Policy: Appendix B – Guidance in the event of alcohol poisoning

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    Alcohol Misuse Policy: Appendix B – Guidance in the event of alcohol poisoning

    Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone has consumed toxic levels of alcohol over a short period of time. In the most severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma, brain damage and can even be fatal.

    The signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

    • confusion
    • severely slurred speech
    • loss of co-ordination
    • vomiting
    • regular or slow breathing
    • hypothermia (pale or blue-tinged skin caused by low body temperature)
    • stupor (being conscious but unresponsive)
    • passing out and being unconscious

    When to seek medical help
    If you suspect a fellow student may have alcohol poisoning and they are in College accommodation, contact the Porters’ Lodge immediately for help. If they are not in College, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance. While you're waiting:

    • try to keep them sitting up and awake
    • if they've passed out, lie them on their side in the recovery position and check they're breathing properly
    • keep them warm
    • stay with them and monitor their symptoms

    Never leave a person alone to 'sleep it off'. The level of alcohol in a person's blood can continue to rise for up to 30-40 minutes after their last drink. This can cause their symptoms to suddenly become much more severe. You also shouldn't give them coffee or any more alcohol, put them under a cold shower or walk them around. These won't help someone 'sober up' and may even be dangerous.