Drinking a lot of alcohol or taking too much of any kind of drug can be very dangerous. In some cases it can even lead to death. If the person is unresponsive, they will need you to keep them safe until an ambulance arrives.

Quick help

  • Call 111 for an ambulance if the person is unrepsonsive or unconscious.

  • Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you are uncertain.


What to look for 

Drowsiness: The person may be very sleepy.

Confusion: The person may not know where they are or what is happening.

Loss of coordination and balance: The person may fall over or be unable to do simple tasks.

Hallucinations: The person may be imagining things.

Strange behaviour: The person may do unusual things.

Seizures: The person may jerk and twitch or have convulsions.

Nausea or vomiting: The person feels sick or is being sick.

Evidence of overdose: Look for containers, bottles, syringes, or a strong chemical or strange smell etc.

Mood changes: Including being very excited, or aggressive, or feeling ‘down'.

How you can help

If the person has taken a mixture of substances 

  • Sometimes people take a ‘cocktail’ (mixture) of substances without knowing exactly what they are taking.
  • Look for anything nearby that might help the hospital or ambulance staff with treatment.
  • Keep any container, syringe or needle, and vomit, which can help identify what they might have taken.

If the person is unresponsive

  • If the person is unresponsive and breathing normally place them on their side.
  • Tilt the person’s head back and lift their chin up to make sure they can breathe properly.
  • Clear any vomit away from the person’s mouth.
  • If the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally begin CPR

If the person is conscious 

  • Stay with them and reassure them that you are there to help. 
  • If there are friends or family nearby ask them to help you keep the person calm.
  • Ask the person what they have taken; how much, when, and whether it was swallowed, inhaled, or injected.
  • If the person is behaving dangerously call 111 for the police.


The person may have overdosed accidentally, e.g., too much to drink or taking ‘party pills, or on purpose (trying to harm themselves). 

If the person has tried to harm themselves, they need help from a doctor. Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see a GP. If in doubt, call 111 for an ambulance.


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