Identifying a drunken person

  • Size up each person’s potential for intoxication based upon their physical characteristics i.e: size, gender, rate of consumption, strength of each drink, amount of food and additional use of drugs areall to be considered.
  • Watch for a person’s inhibitions to become lowered ie: more talkative and beginning to lose some control of knowing how far they can go in a social setting, louder behaviour, mood swings.
  • As they become increasingly intoxicated, a person will progress through the stages of poor judgment ie: inappropriate behaviour that their normal personality would not allow for them, foul language, off-colour jokes and overly flirtatious behaviour, participating in drinking games.
  • Once people drinking alcohol begin to show signs of physical impairment, first get them to stop drinking any more alcohol ie: glassy/unfocused eyes, slurred speech, forgetting thoughts in mid-sentence, talking slowly, moving slowly or in a nearly robotic fashion.
  • If a person shows a loss of motor control or function, or poor coordination, they must not be left alone and they could become a danger to themselves or others ie: stumbling, swaying, difficulty with depth perception, dropping things repeatedly or having difficulty picking them up.
  • Remember that it's possible for people to develop a tolerance for alcohol, but that does mean that they are not legally intoxicated. This means that visual recognition is more difficult, therefore you must look for other signs ie: smell of alcohol on a persons’ breath, sweating profusely when they should not be, redness in the body’s extremities.

How to deal with drunken people 

  • Recognize someone who has had too much alcohol. Report your concerns to your Manager/Supervisor or a member of your Door Staff if present.
  • The amount of care someone will need will depend on how much he or she has had to drink.
  • Step in to discourage further drinking. Do not serve alcohol to someone who appears to be drunk.
  • Do your best to help the intoxicated person to avoid physical injury, especially through falling. Help the person to a safe seat or to the floor. If the intoxicated person begins to heave, try to help them to an appropriate place to vomit.
  • Do not leave someone who is very drunk to fall asleep alone.
  • Check regularly to ensure the intoxicated person responds to being stirred. Say their name loudly, ask them firmly to open their eyes, prod them and look for a response. Watch the chest or abdomen for breathing movements. A rate of 12- 20 breaths per minute is normal.
  • Look for signs of alcohol poisoning. If breathing becomes slow (8 breaths per minute or less or irregular with 10 seconds or more between each breath), and they are unresponsive to being prodded and pinched firmly, this suggests alcohol poisoning. Other possible signs include:Passed out or stupors – unconscious or semi-conscious, cannot be awakened, blue lips and fingertips, dehydrated, rapid pulse, vomiting while asleep and not waking up even when vomiting and/or cold clammy hands/ feet.  If you spot these signs, call 999/112/101 (emergency services), or your area's emergency number immediately.  Stay with the intoxicated person until help arrives. Keep them warm and continue to monitor breathing. If a qualified first aider is available, call on them for help while waiting for the ambulance.
  • Don't panic. Stay calm. Reassure them, and in doing so, reassure yourself. If the person is awake or conscious, do not touch or prod them without explaining what you're about to do; they may react violently. Don't give them stimulating drinks such as tea or coffee. These can cause further dehydration. If someone else is present, send them to direct the ambulance paramedics to your position.
  • Do not jeopardize your own health when looking after the person. Do not try to physically lift a drunken person or stop someone much larger than you falling down–you may injure your back. Instead, concentrate on protecting their head.
  • If someone gets into a drunken state having taken in seemingly little alcohol, they may be lightweight but be wary of drinks being spiked or an interaction with over-the-counter, prescribed, or illicit drugs as well. Using high-energy drinks in combination with alcohol hides the usual signs of intoxication so that blood alcohol levels can become dangerously high. If you suspect this, get the person home and report it to health authorities, or take them straight to the emergency department.
  • If the person you suspect to be suffering from alcohol poisoning is underage do not put off calling the emergency services for fear of getting them in trouble. The younger a person is, the more susceptible to alcohol they are, and the longer you leave them, the worse they could get.

Websites of Interest

Public Health - Easier ways to drink sensibly

NHS - Drinking and Alcohol

BBPA - Customer Unit Awareness Campaign

Drinkaware - Drink Driving and the legal Alcohol limit