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Sleeping it off... the dangers of putting a drunk person to bed

Each year, approximately 5,500 Australians die and 157,000 are hospitalised from alcohol consumption. The shocking and tragic reality, is that some of these deaths happen when a drunk person is put to bed by their friends. Sleeping off alcohol can actually be pretty dangerous and it’s important that your teen knows how to help someone who’s had a bit too much to drink. Here are some tell tale signs and tests to help your teen make an informed decision.

What’s the deal with putting a drunk person to bed? There are many reasons why putting a drunk person to bed can be a bad idea. Going to bed drunk can change your sleep patterns. It makes you fall into a deep sleep quicker and reduces the amount of REM s

Now you’re probably thinking, this will finally give me a good night's sleep! But, it actually does the opposite.

#Scarily enough, two main things that could happen are:

A person could suffocate whilst asleep

A person could vomit without waking up meaning the contents sits at the back of the throat. If they’re not in the recovery position, this could suffocate them.

The person can simply stop breathing.

Your blood alcohol level can still rise whilst you're asleep and lead to alcohol poisoning. That’s the big deal… putting a drunk person to sleep doesn’t automatically remove the undigested alcohol from their system. They’re body still needs to process it and break it down.

It can be scary, we know, but that’s why we’re here… to give you the information you need to reduce the chance of this happening to your mate.

#How can I make an informed decision about putting a drunk person to bed?

Paul Dillion, on his podcast “The Real Deal on Drugs,” explains a simple three step test that we think is AWESOME for determining if your drunk friend is okay to put to bed. Here’s a breakdown:


Can they walk? This only needs to be a few unassisted steps. If they can’t do this by themselves, you need to monitor them until they can.


Can they talk? Now, this isn’t them just nodding or frowning at you. Your friend needs to be able to have a conversation with you… in a language that you understand. If not, it’s not a good idea to put them to bed just yet.


Can they answer a question? Don’t put them to bed if they can’t answer a question. Here’s some good ones to help you out: where do you live? Where are we right now? What’s your full name? How many siblings do you have? What’s your birthday?

#What do I do if I think my friend is well enough to go to bed?

If your friend can do all three steps, they’ll most likely be all good going to bed. Here’s a few things to do when it’s time to tuck them in for the night.


Check their pulse!

Right before they go night night - check their pulse TWICE. Check their pulse, then wait 10-15 minutes, then check it again. Make sure it’s steady and getting stronger. If it’s getting slower or weaker it means the alcohol levels are still increasing. We encourage you to wait a bit longer before you put them to bed.


Put them in the recovery position

Have a quick Google on how to put someone in the recovery position or look at the video below. Make sure you wedge a pillow behind their back, their not facing the wall, and they have a pillow to hug. This will make sure you can monitor them and they won’t fall on their back or front.


Monitor them

It’s a sacrifice but make sure you’re monitoring them every 10 minutes. Check to see if their breathing is steading, if they’ve vomited or if they’ve rolled over. They could still be getting more drunk as they sleep so this is a really important step. We recommend having a schedule with friends you trust.


Wake them up!

For the first hour, wake them up to make sure there are signs of life (eyes open, push you away etc). It is a huge commitment so you might want to reach out to a sober, responsible person for help.


Bucket and Water

Always have a bucket on the edge of the bed if they need and have a water bottle they can sip on throughout the night. You don’t want to be cleaning up vomit or broken glass unnecessarily.


There is no guarantee that a drunk person will be okay but we hope these tips and tricks can help your teen make an informed decision. We know… it’s a lot of pressure but there’s always help available. Encourage your teen to reach out to a trusted adult if they need support and call 000 if they need medical assistance. You can also find our Red Frog volunteers at many events to give a helping hand.

Recovery Position Video

Do know what the recovery position in? Here's a quick video to help you out.