How to recognize and what to do
in an intoxication situation?
Information for parents and health proffesionals
Carlos Bauche
Kunphen Center For
Substance Abuse
What is an Intoxication?
Any consumption that alters the body functions
and psychological performance of the user.
Is getting drunk an intoxication?
Is getting stunned an intoxication?
 It’s not very common, and it’s strange if it happens
without the presence of other substance like alcohol,
cannabis or speed.
It’s generally constituted by panic atacks (bad trips):
anxiety, depresion, mental confusion and visual
hallucinations. There could be also some feelings of
being uncapable, guilt, loss of self control, agression,
and risk of suicide.
What to do:
Isolate the person in a quit place, with few
stimuli, medium light and maybe some soft
music. IT’s good to have somebody to calm
him. Explain what could be happening to him
and remind him that it is temporary and it will
pass soon. Calm down if they think they are
going to be like that forever. Take it to a
hospital if possible for further examinations.
 It’s donde via the inhaling paths while smoking ( it can
be mixed with tobacco. There can be conjuntival
redness and taquicardia. Mouth and throat dryness,
slightly low temperature, reduction on muscle control
and coordination. The senses and sensations are more
accute and there is an alteration of the time and space
memory performance.
There is a difficulty while performing concrete activities
and the reaction times become slow. After some
euphoric effects (laughter) there is somnolence.
There can be panic and anxiety attacks, paranoid
ideation, hallucinations and even despersonalization
What to do?:
Calm down the person. Look for a safe and isolated
environment. Pick up information about all the other
possible substances he might have taken. Do not allow
complex activities like driving or jumping fences or
roofs. If the crisis is severe or there are psychiatric
alterations, is better to take him/her to the hospital.
Stimmulants (cocaine,
amphetamines, MDMA, etc.
 Is frequent. Most of the cases are by smoking or
inhaling. Some are intrablood.
 The symptoms are wide, but they tend to be excitation
and hyperactivity, confusion and agitation, and
sometimes violent. The degree of anxiety and panic is
high . They swet a lot, have high heart rate frequency
(as well as arteries tension). They could have
taquicardia, toracic pain, midriasis (abnormal pupil
dilatation and iris inmovility),sometimes nausea, vomits
and diarrhea. They could have headeches, but they
notice one someone asks them about it.
Feelings of been prosecuted, loss of control. Visual,
tactile and audio hallucinations, without loosing the
sense orientation.
Ther can be convulsions, cardiac arritmia, coronary
ischemia (a negative umbalance between the energy
supply and the blood demand in the heart) and brain
What to do?:
Be very cautious . Approach slowly, calmed and quiet.
Avoid having quick movements or a menacing look in
your face, using a serene and never authoritarian
voice tone.
Do not increase the anguish. You can recognize it the
effect is comming down if you see more tranquility or
even a mild depression. If the person is too violent
sometimes is necessary to use the force to grab
him/her and take him to a hospital.
The Pupil on Drugs
¿Is Your Friend O.K.?
Glasgow Coma Scale
The GCS is scored between 3 and 15, 3 being the
worst score, and 15 the best. It is composed of three
parts: Best Eye Response, Best Verbal Response,
Best Motor
Response, as shown.
When doing a neuro assessment it is important to
watch for trends indicating a decreasing LOC.
Keep in mind that when patients have ingested alcohol,
mind altering drugs, have hypoglycemia or shock with
a systolic BP <80, the GCS may be invalid.
¿Is Your Friend O.K.?
Glasgow Coma Scale
Important note, charting 'GCS 9' means
nothing, it is important to break the figure down
into its components, such as E3V3M3 = GCS
9. A Coma Score of 13 or higher indicates a
possible mild brain injury, 9 to 12 is a moderate
injury and 8 or less
a severe brain injury.
Glasgow Coma Scale
Glasgow Coma Scale Practice