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First Aid for Alcohol and Drug Abuse and intoxication

If You or Someone You Know is in Crisis and Needs Immediate Help

If You or Someone You Know are Thinking about Self Harming or Attempting Suicide

Call 988, Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or 911


How to Tell Whether a Young Person is Experiencing Acute Effects from Drug Abuse or Misuse


  • Some drugs have stimulating effects (uppers, such as cocaine and amphetamines),including making the person feel energetic and confident. Signs of more acute intoxication include becoming frustrated or angry, having a racing heart, overheating, or dehydration.

  • Some drugs have hallucinogenic effects (trips, such as with mushrooms and LSD). including hallucinations, delusions, and strong feelings of affection for others. Signs of more acute intoxication include having more negative hallucinations and delusions and becoming fearful or paranoid.

  • Some drugs have depressant effects (downers, such as marijuana and tranquilizers), including fatigue, slurred speech, and slowed reflexes. Signs of more acute intoxication include feelings of having trouble moving. vomiting, and loss of consciousness.

  • Some drugs (e.g., ecstasy and marijuana) may have multiple effects, which is why it can be hard to tell what sort of drug has been used.

(From Mental Health First Aid USA)

How to Tell if a Young Person has Alcohol Intoxication

  • Loss of coordination

  • Slurred speech

  • Staggering or falling over

  • Loud, argumentative, or aggressive behavior

  • Vomiting

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness

(From Mental Health First Aid USA)

How to Tell if a Young Person has Opioid Overdoes

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness

  • Pinpoint pupil

  • Respiratory failure or slow breathing

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Blue skin from poor perfusion 

How to Assist

Safety must be everyone's first priority. 911 should be summoned immediately under the following situation: 

For Alcohol: 

  • Decreased level of consciousness

  • Unresponsive to painful or verbal stimulate 

  • Irregular, slow, shallow breathing 

  • Change of skin color, pale, clammy, cold, especially blue

  • Uncontrolled vomiting 

  • Seizure, alerted mental status (Such as state of confusion), delusion, hallucination 

  • Any form of trauma, such as fall, car accident, especially head trauma   

  • Signs of dehydration or overheated 

For Opioid Overdoes:

  • All the signs and symptoms that mention above in the alcohol section 

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness

  • Pinpoint pupil

  • Respiratory failure or slow breathing

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Blue skin from poor perfusion 

Useful information for medical providers:

  • What did the individual drink/use today?

  • How much did the individual drink/use today?

  • What time did the individual start drinking/using today?

  • Did the individual pass-out? If so, for how long? How many times? 

  • Did the individual vomit? If so, how many times? Any blood in the vomit. 

  • Did the individual experience any trauma tonight? such as fall? 

  • Previous medical and medication history, allergy to medication. 

  • Chronic user?

What to do while waiting for ambulance? 

  • Ensure your safety and the individual's safety

  • If signs and symptoms of opioid overdose is present, and you have access to Narcan (Naloxone). You must administrate Narcan immediately. Instructions should be provided on the package. A 911 operator can also help you.  

  • If passible, remove the individual from the environment where the initial event took place 

  • Do not leave the individual alone 

  • No food or water should be given due to possible airway obstruction 

  • Monitor the individual's airway (nothing inside mouth), breathing, and circulation(skin color, pulse). If no pulse, CPR must be performed immediately. (Instruction would be provided by 911 operator) 

  • If the individual is conscious, keep in sitting position. If the individual is unconscious, place the person on the side or in recovery position.

  • If the individual is having a seizure, no intervention is needed. Protect the individual from any potential trauma, especially head trauma. 

  • Vomiting and nausea are very common symptoms and signs. It's okay for individual to vomit. Do not force the individual to vomit. Smelling an alcohol pad can reduce nausea. 

  • If the individuals condition worsens, you should update the 911 operator. 

Do I have to call ambulance? 

It is the best to use your own judgement on this individual and based on the situation. It's important to remember the signs and symptoms that mentioned above that required immediate medical attention. 

Things are also Useful:

(From Mental Health First Aid USA)

If the person is in a substance-affected state,



Talk with the young person in a respectful manner, and use simple, clear language. Repeat simple requests and instructions because the person may find it difficult to comprehend what has been said. Do not speak in an angry manner. Do not laugh at, make fun of, or provoke the person.



While in a substance-affected state, the person may engage in a wide range of risky activities (such as having unprotected sex, vandalizing property, or driving a car). Assess the situation for potential dangers, and ensure that you, the person, and others are safe. Monitor the person and environment to prevent tripping or falling.



Substance use can lead to a range of medical emergencies. Stay with the young person or ensure they are not left alone. Be aware that the young person may be more affected than they realize.

Encourage the person to tell someone if they start to feel sick or uneasy and to call emergency services if they have an adverse reaction.


Keep the person away from machines and dangerous objects. If the person attempts to drive a vehicle (or ride a bike),you should discourage them (e.g., by telling the young person about the risks to both self and others).Only prevent the person from driving if it is safe for you to do so. If it is unsafe, call the police or 911.


Arrange for the person to go to a hospital if you think the person is a risk to self; otherwise, organize a safe mode of transport to get the person home.


If you are not the young person's parent or caregiver. you will need to ensure that a parent or caregiver is informed of what has occurred. Do this in a calm and reassuring manner.

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