Signs of Intoxication
How to Recognize the Signs of Intoxication
How can you tell if someone is tipsy, drunk, intoxicated, or over-served? Can you judge by the fact that their eyes are red, their cheeks are rosy, or if their speech is slurred? There are many signs and symptoms of intoxication that can be easy enough to recognize with a little practice and research.
Recognizing the Physical Signs of Intoxication
Look for glassy or bloodshot eyes.A person’s eyes can tell you a lot about them and their mental state in a particular moment. If their eyes are glassy and bloodshot, it could be a sign that they've been drinking too much.Additionally, if a person has droopy eyes and is clearly having trouble keeping their eyes open, this could also be a sign of intoxication.
- Note: Bloodshot eyes could also be a sign of allergies or another medical condition. So make sure you ask about allergies before you interpret this symptom as a definitive sign of intoxication.
Notice how the person smells.While intoxication can mean being under the influence of several different substances, the smell of the user can be a big giveaway for many people. Both alcohol and marijuana have very strong odours that linger with the user long after the intoxicating substance has been consumed. Try to smell the person and see if you can notice hints of alcohol or weed on their breath or clothes.
- As a parent looking for signs of intoxication in their child, this is one of the most effective tell-tale signs.
Watch for impaired motor function.Intoxicated people can’t perform normal tasks as easily as they can when they are sober. This includes things like walking a straight line, lighting a cigarette properly, spilling drinks, or fumbling with other objects.
- Keep in mind that impaired motor function can be a side effect of many other conditions, such as Parkinson's disease or someone who has suffered a stroke.
Estimate the person’s size.Although alcohol affects everyone similarly, the speed at which it does so will be different based upon their physical characteristics.Size, sex, rate of consumption, the strength of each drink, the amount of food and the additional use of drugs all are to be considered when determining how quickly alcohol may be affecting someone.
- For example, a person who weighs 150 lbs. will feel the effects of the alcohol much more quickly than someone who weighs 250 lbs., even if they drink the exact same amount of alcohol. This is because the larger person can tolerate more alcohol since their body takes longer to process it.
Part 1 Quiz
Which of the following is the clearest physical symptom of intoxication?
Recognizing the Behavioral Signs of Intoxication
Watch for a person’s inhibitions to become lowered.If someone is becoming more talkative and beginning to lose some control of knowing how far he can go in a social setting, they are showing the first signs of intoxication. Louder behaviour than usual — and even mood swings — are also possible warning signs.
- For example, loud outbursts or inappropriate comments could be signs of intoxication.
- An intoxicated person may spend their money more freely than they usually would. With lowered inhibitions, people are more likely to focus on the good feeling that they get from drinking, rather than thinking about how they need to be responsible with their money. They might also buy drinks for strangers or acquaintances.
- Additionally, many people like to smoke cigarettes while they are drinking. Smokers usually smoke more when they are drinking, but many non-smokers will light up the occasional cigarette when they’ve been drinking.This is another sign of intoxication.
Listen to the volume of the person's voice.There are many signs of intoxication that you can spot just by paying attention to how someone speaks. If a person is speaking too loudly or too softly, then they are showing signs of intoxication.
Notice if the person slurs their speech.Slurred speech is almost always a sure sign of intoxication. If you notice a person (your child, your customer, or anyone really) is slurring their words together, especially to the point where it is difficult to interpret exactly what they are saying, it is may be a sign of intoxication.
- Again, slurred speech can be a side effect of another condition or even a sign that someone is having a stroke. Don't automatically assume a person is drunk because they're slurring their words.
Pay attention to what the person says.If a person is being combative with her words, speaking more slowly than usual, or repeating themselves a lot, these could be signs of intoxication. Watch for these verbal cues to determine if someone has been drinking too much.
Observe how the person interacts with others.As they become increasingly intoxicated, a person will progress through the stages of poor judgment. This is inappropriate behaviour that they normally would not engage in. Foul language, off-colour jokes, and overly flirtatious behaviour are signs of poor judgment, especially if these things are out of character for this person. Also, if their rate of consumption begins to increase or he participates in drinking games, these could also be signs of poor judgment.
- For example, inappropriate sexual advances, mean comments, and unusually dirty jokes can all be signs of intoxication.
Interpret the person's mood.People who are intoxicated often have wide mood swings —being happy and laughing one second, then crying and belligerent a few minutes later.If their mood seems more exaggerated than normal (on either end of the spectrum), they might be intoxicated.
- For example, if someone is drinking and they seem to be in a good mood, but suddenly starts crying, this could be a sign of intoxication.
Look for clues in other modes of communication.Sometimes it’s important to be able to determine if someone is intoxicated even if you are not in the same room with them.
- Phone calls. An intoxicated person might call an old lover or call someone repeatedly (also known as ‘‘drunk dialing’’). Their inhibitions are lowered, so calling over and over might not seem disruptive or rude to them and so they may feel less accountable for their actions.
- Text messages. Signs of intoxication to look for in text messages include drastic misspellings, overly emotional pronouncements, or receiving a text (or a series of texts) at an unusually late hour.
Consider alcohol tolerance.Remember that it's possible for people to develop a tolerance for alcohol, but that doesn't mean that they are not legally intoxicated. It just means that visual recognition is more difficult. For some people with exceptional tolerance, drink counting may be the only way to assess intoxication but this is not without problems.
- If you are a bartender trying to determine whether you should keep serving someone alcohol or not, try to count the number of drinks the person has had. You can even ask one of their friends how much she has had to drink or how drunk the friend thinks the person is.
Part 2 Quiz
Which of the following behaviors may indicate intoxication?
Helping Someone Who is Intoxicated
Try to get the person to stop drinking.Once people drinking alcohol begin to show signs of physical impairment, first get them to stop drinking any more alcohol.Some beginning signs of physical impairment are slurred speech, slow or clumsy movements, swaying, dropping objects (e.g., goods, money, keys) or forgetting thoughts in mid-sentence.
- To get someone to stop drinking, try talking to them calmly as a friend. Tell them that you think they may have had too much to drink and that you are worried, so it would make you feel better if they would quit drinking for the night. Appeal to their sense of friendship if you have to — that they are doing you a favour by not drinking anymore.
- If they refuse to quit drinking, consider taking more drastic measures. If you are in a bar, tell the bartender that you think the intoxicated person has been drinking too much and ask the bartender to quit serving them alcohol. If you are in a private space like a house, try to hide all the remaining alcohol. The drunk person will not be as observant as usual because of their dulled senses, so it should be relatively easy for you to hide the alcohol without them noticing.
Keep them company.If a person shows a loss of motor control, function or poor coordination, they must not be left alone as they could become a danger to themselves or others. Stumbling or swaying, having difficulty with depth perception, and dropping things repeatedly or having difficulty picking them up are signs that the person has progressed to this level.
Get the person home.If you notice someone is very intoxicated and they are in a public place like a bar or restaurant, try to help them get home so he can go to bed and sleep it off. You can offer the person a ride yourself, call a cab for them, offer to call a friend, or call a drunk ride service if one is available in your area.
Prevent the person from driving.Drinking and driving is extremely dangerous — to the drunk driver themselves and to everyone who crosses paths with them. Sometimes people make poor decisions when they have had too much to drink, or aren’t able to correctly gauge their own level of drunkenness, so they choose to drive when they shouldn’t. To prevent someone from driving drunk you can try helping them get home another way, by notifying the bartender or the police, or even by stealing their car keys.
Make sure the person is safe.People can be a danger to themselves when they are intoxicated. This is especially true if the intoxicated person is well past the point of minor drunkenness. There are many dangers to be considered — for example, people have been known to die from choking on their own vomit while they were intoxicated. So if you help someone who is drunk get home, try to make sure they are sleeping on their side so they won’t be able to choke if the person ends up vomiting.
- If you see a person who is heavily intoxicated but this seems to be out of character for them, or notice they only had a single drink, it is possible that they have been roofied. This means that someone has slipped a drug in their drink (usually the sedative Rohypnol) that will cause them to lose some muscle control and, in effect, be unable to resist if he is assaulted.
Seek medical attention if you think the person has alcohol poisoning.Alcohol poisoning is a very serious condition that results from drinking more alcohol than your body can handle. In a worst case scenario, this can result in death.If you think someone you know has alcohol poisoning, seek emergency medical attention immediately. These are some symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- Slowed breathing
- Passing out
- Pale skin
Keep other causes in mind.There are a number of different medical conditions which may cause a person to appear drunk. For instance, someone suffering a stroke may have a drooping face, slurred speech, confusion, dizziness, difficulty walking, and so on.
- If the person displays symptoms of being drunk but has not been drinking, these signs appear out of nowhere, or you are simply unsure, you can perform a few simple tests to see if the person is having a stroke. Ask them to smile, to raise both arms over their head, and to speak a simple sentence.If part of the person's face droops or their smile is asymmetrical, if one arm seems to drift downward, and/or if they cannot repeat the sentence or seems to be searching for words, they may be having a stroke and needs emergency medical assistance.
- A person with diabetes may display what could be interpreted as "drunk behaviour" when they are, in fact, experiencing ketoacidosis, which occurs when the body doesn't have enough insulin and there is a build up of acids called ketones in the bloodstream. If you also notice the person has fruity-smelling breath and they have not been drinking fruit-flavoured drinks, they may be experiencing ketoacidosis and needs immediate medical help.
- Disorders like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and ataxia all affect movement and may cause a person to appear drunk or have difficulty maintaining their balance. Don't assume that someone who has difficulty keeping their balance is intoxicated.
Part 3 Quiz
What is the most important action to take when someone is intoxicated?
QuestionDoes the person usually have facial redness?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, this is another physical sign of intoxication.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell when I am drunk without the use of friends?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to keep track of your drinks and if you start feeling dizzy, lose your balance, or can't think straight, you're probably drunk and you should stop.Thanks!
QuestionThe main thing that I have experienced is dizziness. What does that mean?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUsually this means the alcohol has reached you central system, causing slow blood flow to the brain making you "lightheaded".Thanks!
QuestionDoes it mean someone is less intoxicated if he is succeeding at some of the tasks?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's likely, but if he's only doing some of the tasks while still failing at others, he's still intoxicated. So take the appropriate safety measures and use your best judgment.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I know that my husband is an alcoholic?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAn alcoholic is usually defined by their dependency on alcohol and how frequently they consume it. If your husband is drinking constantly, or unable to enjoy his day or certain activities without drinking, then he might be an alcoholic. Signs of alcoholism also include irritability when alcohol isn't available, attempts to hide alcohol or alcohol consumption, and missing events in order to drink.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I serve one beer to a guest, and then 15 minutes later he/she looks intoxicated?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell that person they cannot have anymore to drink. Give him/her some water, and if he/she needs to go home, get a cab or a person to help take him/her home.Thanks!
QuestionIs there a scientific way to tell?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, a breathalyzer test will tell you the exact BAC (blood alcohol content) of the person.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I sober up quickly?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere is no way to "sober up quickly." The all-too-common myths and tricks to get sober do not work. The only thing that can get rid of a hangover (or the effects of alcohol in general) is time.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the most reliable sign of intoxication?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSlurred speech and poor balance are usually the two most reliable signs of intoxication.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I confront my parent about a drinking problem?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry to talk to them casually when they are relaxed and not in the middle of something else. Tell them and remember, honesty is always best.Thanks!
- Consider obtaining a blood alcohol content (BAC) reader. You can find inexpensive, keychain-sized readers that can remove the guesswork when you are trying to determine if someone is intoxicated.
- When determining a person’s level of intoxication, the type of alcohol does not make a difference if it has been served in a measured dose. Alcohol is classified as a drug. The amount of alcohol in 12 oz. of a typical domestic beer, 5 oz. of wine, or a 1 oz. shot of 100-proof spirits or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor is the same. What is typically different with these drinks is the rate at which a person consumes them.
- At a BAC of less than 150 mg/dl, signs of visible intoxication are not reliably present in most drinkers, and the likelihood of identifying signs of impairment is less likely.
- In most people, reliable signs of intoxication are present by casual observation at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 150 mg/dl or more, even in most tolerant individuals.
- In some statesobviousintoxication means that if someone has consumed a large number of drinks, it should be obvious that they are intoxicated and not capable of driving. Other state laws definevisibleintoxication as specific types of behaviour such as trouble walking, slurred speech, and other common signs of alcohol intoxication.
- John Brick, executive director of In toxin International, said that one of the deadliest consequence of alcohol over-consumption is impaired driving and it is still difficult for trained observers to fully identify "intoxication," given that so many factors contribute to it. "It is important to understand and recognize intoxication because of the risk for injury that results from it."
Sources and Citations
Upload a picture for other readers to see.
In other languages:
Español: , Italiano: , Português: , Русский: , Français: , Deutsch: , Bahasa Indonesia: , Nederlands:
Video: How to Detect the Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Small Steps to Becoming a Vegetarian
Persian-Style Stuffed Lamb Recipe
How to Use Insurance Investments for Loans
How to Maximize Small Garden Spaces
Free People’s Summer 2019 Outfits Recall the ’90s
10 Foolproof First Messages Guaranteed to Get You a Response on Tinder
After Something Different
14 Precious Pet Fashions
Slow-Cooked Jerk Pork Belly Recipe
Nicholas Kirkwood Shoes FallWinter 2014-2015
I Suffered From Hormonal Acne For 16 Years—Until I Tried This Miracle Pill
How to Contact Elon Musk
How to Dye Black Hair Red
How to Tell if a Salesperson Is Shady