In the past two weeks there have been 15 alcohol-related offenses involving 28 different people on TCU’s campus, according to the TCU crime log. Five of the 15 alcohol-related incidents involve suspected alcohol poisoning.
There were only three reports of suspected alcohol poisoning through the first two months of class in the fall of 2014.
Alcohol poisoning is caused by consuming large amounts of alcohol in a relatively short period of time. High levels of alcohol in the body can shut down key areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate and body temperature, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Signs of alcohol poisoning include cold and pale or bluish skin, unconsciousness, vomiting while unconscious and slow or irregular breathing.
The Alcohol & Drug Education Center at TCU provides magnets in every dorm room with a list of these symptoms in addition to numbers to call if someone is suspected of having them.
“Immediately call for help,” said Sparkle Greenhaw, the director of alcohol and drug education. “Any concern at all—if it’s your roommate, your sorority sister or fraternity brother, or whatever—call for help.”
Greenhaw recommended that the TCU Police (817-257-7777) be the first number called in that event. The TCU Police are trained to assess and treat alcohol poisoning as well as to contact paramedics should the need arise.
An average of six people die every day from alcohol poisoning in the United States, according to the CDC.
If someone displays symptoms of alcohol poisoning they should be turned on their side and checked to make sure their airway is clear after calling for police or paramedics, Greenhaw said.
But she stressed that students should never take responsibility for someone else’s medical care instead of calling for help.
“Worst case scenario you save their life, and they get mad at you for a few days. But you save their life,” Greenhaw said.
When asked how alcohol poisoning and binge drinking could be limited, Greenhaw said “there’s no silver bullet,” but that it would take a full community effort.
“Alcohol and Drug Education is a resource for students,” Greenhaw said. “We are not a discipline office. We try to create an environment that is a pleasant place to come that people will feel welcome and not judged, but be supported in the way that they need.”