Alcohol poisoning

Sep 282004
Authors: Sara Bahnson

In the wake of CSU student Samantha Spady’s death and the 19

alcohol citations issued in connection with parties she attended

the night of her death, students are left to weigh the consequences

of reporting alcohol poisoning.

“If someone is passed out or totally unresponsive (due to

alcohol), that is a huge red flag to call 911,” said Pam McCracken,

director of the Center for Drug and Alcohol Education at CSU.

Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning may save someone’s

life, McCracken said. Signs of alcohol poisoning include a faint

pulse, less than eight breaths per minute, and skin that is cold,

clammy or looks blue.

When these things occur, “the body is trying to save itself,”

McCracken said. “The body slows itself down. In order to save

itself, it can kill itself.”

Spady was found dead in a fraternity house on Sept. 5 and

toxicology tests later reported that her blood-alcohol level

was.436. In their final report, the police speculated that Spady

might have been saved had someone called 911.

Beyond calling the police, it is important to get the

intoxicated person on their side and to check their throat for

debris, McCracken said.

“If the person is unconscious, you may want to clear the airway

and administer CPR,” McCracken said.

Common remedies to sober up such as a cold shower, coffee, and

sleep will not work, according to McCracken.

“Time is the only thing that works,” McCracken said. If a person

is conscious, sleep may be permissible, but only if the person is

checked and monitored throughout the night.

Some students may hesitate to call the police regarding alcohol

poisoning because they are afraid of getting an alcohol


“I’m sure in the back of their minds that’s an issue,” said

Yvonne Paez, public information officer for CSU Police Department.

“But as mature individuals we need to access the situation. Is

getting a ticket worth my friend’s life?”

According to Paez, issuing alcohol citations is at the police

officer’s discretion. It is sometimes important to get students who

have alcohol problems into the system by issuing a citation so that

they can get help.

“I had alcohol poisoning and I know first-hand that it’s better

to get a ticket than to die,” said J.D. Stout, a freshman

construction management major.

Paez also said that calls to CSUPD can be made anonymously.

“No one should place their own safety or someone else’s in

jeopardy because they’re afraid to get a ticket,” Paez said.


For more information on the Center

for Drug and Alcohol Education, visit their Web site at


The web-site has information on drug and alcohol programs,

counseling, and how to check your blood-alcohol content by your

sex, weight, and the number of drinks you have consumed.

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