Just One Drink: A Student’s Experience with Alcohol Poisoning

We are constantly reminded by parents and teachers that alcohol is bad but do we actually listen?


Chloe Oppelt

All students who are involved in this story’s names have been changed in order to protect their privacy.

*All names have been changed to protect student’s privacy*

From a young age we are taught that alcohol is bad for us, especially when our brains are still developing. We make promises to our parents that we won’t drink until we are of legal age but as we grow older, many of us find ourselves in situations where alcohol is present. We are told that alcohol is bad for us, but not many of us know why. This leads us to make poor decisions without fully understanding the consequences of our actions. If we don’t know why alcohol is bad for us, why wouldn’t we drink it? As long as we have a safe ride home, everything should be okay, right? Umm…Wrong. Many teens make this assumption, which is a major contributor to the fact that 19% of young people aged 12 to 20 years say they have illegally consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. It makes us wonder, if teens knew the full effects that alcohol has on them, would they still partake in underage drinking? One regretful Liberty student ended up with alcohol poisoning because they partook in drinking after making these same assumptions that many teenagers do.

This student was never one to partake in drinking as it didn’t appeal to them. They had friends and classmates that drank recreationally, but they always decided it was better if they didn’t. That was until one night in the fall when they found themselves at a friend’s house where alcohol was present.
“I didn’t go over there intending to drink, it kind of just happened,” the student said. “I thought that I was just going over there to hang out with my friends and watch movies; it was what we had done all summer long so I didn’t think any differently about this time. I was just sitting there when my friend pulled out alcohol and suggested we should drink,” the student explained.

The student went on to say how they knew it wasn’t a smart decision.
“I thought about it for a few minutes, whether or not I actually wanted to drink. I knew I was on medication that could interfere with alcohol and even told my friend that, but they just kept on telling me not to worry and that it would be fun. I finally gave in and they handed me a drink. I took a sip and gagged at the taste, so I decided to just chug it so I could get it over with. I think that’s when things started to go bad. I realized I had no idea what I had just drank,” they said. The student said that they looked down at the drink and realized that it wasn’t a standard hard seltzer, but instead, a Four Loko drink with 14% Alcohol content, the equivalent of 4-5 shots of hard alcohol.
“I pulled out my phone and looked up if that was a lot and it was,” they said. “I remember I was just sitting there and having fun when I started to feel awful. My stomach was churning and I just looked at my friend and said ‘I really don’t feel well.’ After that, I just started throwing up,” they said.

I think that’s when things started to go bad. I realized I had no idea what I had just drank.

— Anonymous

The student doesn’t remember much else of what happened in the minutes following, saying that their friend had to fill in what had happened to them later that night.
“It’s scary, not remembering. It’s like a hole in my memory, I have no idea what I did. All I know is that I couldn’t walk and had to be carried to the bathroom.”
Memory loss isn’t uncommon when it comes to alcohol poisoning, but the student didn’t learn that until later. Anyone can experience memory loss while under the influence of alcohol, but it is more common in those with substance abuse issues and those who have a high blood alcohol content. Along with memory loss, common indicators of alcohol poisoning include mental confusion, nausea, partial or total loss of motor function skills, and slurred speech.

Chloe Oppelt

Since underage drinking is illegal, most that are put in a situation where underage drinking occurs, tend to make impulsive decisions that can result in life-or-death situations.
“I kept on asking my friend to call someone, but they just told me no because they were worried about getting in trouble,” the student said. “I told them that I didn’t care, I just needed someone with me,” the student goes on to say. “I asked them multiple times to stay with me, I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t breathe right and kept on passing out.”

The student explains how they had to crawl around to find their phone and called another friend to pick them up.
“I was just lucky that they [my friend] picked up the phone. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if they didn’t. I had thrown up seven or eight times at this point.”
Shortly after, their friend picked them up and got the student back to their house.
“I wasn’t even worried about how my mom was going to react, I just knew I needed to get out of there and somewhere safe,” the student explained.

The student had enough knowledge to know they needed help in this situation, which they attributed to being educated about in school.
“I remembered what I learned in Health Class: it’s better to be safe and get in trouble than to be dead because you were worried about the consequences. I think even though kids find [Health Class] unimportant, it really did help me in this case,” they added. “Overall, I suggest that others don’t drink if they’re underage, but that’s not a realistic expectation to set for kids in high school, so I think that the most important message for kids to hear is if you are going to drink, do it around people you trust and make sure you have a plan in case anything goes wrong.”

If you suspect you or a friend has gotten alcohol poisoning, please get help or call 911 right away. If possible, keep the person awake, sitting up, and get them some water. In situations such as these, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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