Binge boozing can create costly, fatal consequences
Posted November 11, 2005

Valerie Rojas
Editor in Chief

Every year 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die as a result of unintentional alcohol-related injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Since 1996, at least 84 deaths as a result of alcohol poisoning have been reported.

Although the number is thought to be higher, flaws in accurate reporting have kept the totals estimated.

It is no surprise that many college students enjoy drinking and use it as a form of socializing.

But, it is important to be cautious while drinking and remember that there are possible risks involved.

When a person has consumed too much alcohol for his body type, depending on weight and height specifications, there is the possibility that he could be poisoned, a sometimes fatal result.

Cynthia Denne, University of La Verne director of student health services, provided a list of very basic symptoms that one can look for if they suspect that a person has been the victim of alcohol poisoning.

It is important to remember that a person does not have to show all of the following symptoms in order to be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

“Even one sign is enough of an emergency to call 911,” Denne said.

• The level of consciousness: is the person unconscious, semi-conscious? If they are not responsive, caution should be taken.

• Slow respiration: eight or less breaths per minute is too slow.

• Color and feel of skin: a pale or bluish skin tone or cold or clammy skin is a warning sign.

• Does the person have a strong alcohol odor? This is one of the main signs specific to alcohol poisoning.

If one finds a person in any of these states, it is important to be sure to place the person in a safe, secure position to avoid aspiration problems in case of vomiting. Lay the person on his side and check to make sure there are no objects inside his mouth. Notify emergency officials immediately.

Do not assume the person will sleep it off and be fine in the morning, Denne said.

“The key is to be safe, not sorry. Once you look at the situation and assess it, make the phone call. Let the professional make the decision,” Denne said.

Valerie Rojas can be reached at

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