Baylor College of Medicine News

Responsibility reigns in Spring Break revelry

The festivities of Spring Break can quickly turn into a medical crisis if too much alcohol is consumed, according to an emergency medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.

"Alcohol poisoning is a spectrum that ranges from impairment of judgment all the way to impairment of bodily functions," said Dr. Mark Escott, assistant professor of medicine in the section of emergency medicine at BCM.

When true alcohol poisoning happens, it depresses various bodily functions, including the ability to breathe and the gag reflex, which protects things from going into your airway.

"These are the two things we are most concerned about because they're most commonly associated with death from alcohol poisoning," Escott said.

Amount of alcohol

The amount of alcohol that leads to alcohol poisoning varies from person to person and can depend on a person's weight and how experienced they are with alcohol.

"It's easy for a younger, less experienced person to have more significant and serious effects," said Escott.

Signs of alcohol poisoning

Escott says to look out for the following serious signs of alcohol poisoning and seek help immediately:

  • If the person is not responsive and their level of consciousness decreases
  • If the person is vomiting along with a decreased level of consciousness
  • If the person is having a seizure
  • If the person's breathing is slowing
  • If the person is in a dangerous place like a hot tub, pool or balcony

Seek help

If you see these symptoms, Escott recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately, turning the person on their side and clearing any vomit out of their mouth to prevent choking.

"It's important to remember that someone can pass out before their alcohol level has reached its maximum level, and that's really dangerous," said Escott. "You should err on the side of caution and seek help if there is a concern."

Escott recommends being responsible about drinking and looking out for one another.

Data also shows that you're more likely to commit or be a victim of a crime when there's alcohol involved."Be responsible for yourself and your friends, it's not worth risking your life," said Escott.