Health and Counseling Services

Division of Student Life

What to Do in an Alcohol or Drug Emergency

If you think a person has had too much alcohol or other drugs, call for help. Alcohol poisoning and other drug overdoses can kill. You will not get in trouble for helping a friend. Unintentional drug overdose is the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States, just behind automobile crashes: don't risk a friend's life.

Call 911.

If this emergency is occurring on the Reed campus, also call Community Safety at 503-788-6666.

While waiting for help do the following:

  • Stay with the individual.
  • Protect him or her from injury without jeopardizing your own safety.
  • Keep him or her warm.
  • If he or she can sit up or stand, try to keep him or her upright to reduce risk of choking on vomit.
  • If he or she must lie down, turn him or her on the side with the face angled to the floor to reduce risk of choking.
  • Gather as much information as possible:
    • How much alcohol and/or other drugs has he or she used over what time period?
    • Is he or she on any medications?
    • Does he or she have any medical or psychiatric problems?
    • Has he or she been injured?
  • Observe his or her breathing.
  • Be prepared to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation if respiration stops. If you do not know CPR, call out to see if someone nearby does.
  • Be confident in your decision to get help. Caring enough is never wrong.