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Officials warn against dangers of binge drinking on St. Patrick's Day

March 17, 2021
<p>March 14 - East Lansing - The alcohol aisle at the Target on Grand River. </p>

March 14 - East Lansing - The alcohol aisle at the Target on Grand River.

Photo by Jillian Felton | The State News

While the spread of COVID-19 is a major and valid concern this St. Patrick’s day, the shamrock-filled holiday poses another safety concern: binge drinking.

According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth most popular drinking holiday, following New Year’s Eve, Christmas and the Fourth of July. Every 46 minutes an alcohol-related accident claims a life on St. Patrick’s Day.

City Manager George Lahanas recognizes this St.Patrick’s day is unique for its double dangers.

“Obviously there’s two things going on here,” Lahanas said. “One is St. Patrick’s day and the desire to make sure people aren’t over-consuming alcohol, and that they’re being safe in that respect. The other is the issue of COVID”

With COVID-19 patients being treated in the local hospitals, it is ideal to prevent avoidable visits such as those that stem from alcohol poisoning. 

“Certainly the health system is working to control the pandemic, and I know the hospital counts now are not as high as they were," Lahanas said. "But I think that you don’t want to purposely tie up our very valuable healthcare resources, our ambulance resources, by having to transport people who have over-consumed alcohol.”

However, this does not mean for one to hesitate to call emergency services if someone has alcohol poisoning or is showing symptoms.

In an email statement, MSU alcohol and other drugs program coordinator, Cara Ludlow emphasized on the importance of calling for help if and when needed.

“It is never the wrong decision to call for help," Ludlow said in the email. "That is always the right decision to make."

Some common signs of alcohol poisoning are: unconsciousness, vomiting while unconscious, slow breathing, clammy or bluish skin, slowed heart rate, dulled responses and seizure. 

“It is also important to note, that an individual’s BAC will continue to rise for approximately one hour after their last drink," Ludlow said in the email. "So if you have someone that looks like they may be at risk, the risk may continue to increase that full hour after they last consumed alcohol.”

According to Ludlow, a cold shower, coffee or walking will not reverse the effects of alcohol and in some situations, could make things worse.

"You should also never try to induce vomiting or on an intoxicated person,” Ludlow said.

Director of communications for MSU Residence Education and Housing Services, Bethany Balks said if an underage student suspects someone around them may have alcohol poisoning, they should not hesitate to call for fear of legal trouble. 

“There’s the medical amnesty - so students should feel very comfortable reporting any issue if they see someone with alcohol poisoning," Balks said.

If you are living on campus, your RA will be available for extended hours on St. Paddy’s

“RA duty lines are going to be available in the evening hours, they’re from 7 pm to 7 am," Balks said. "That number is posted in every residence hall floor."

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