How to Tell if Someone is Drunk or High

How to Tell if Someone is Drunk or High

For the average person, it is difficult to know how to recognise drug or alcohol abuse. It is even harder to tell if someone is drunk or high and the difference between the two. But why does the difference matter?

Well, alcohol addiction and drug addiction are very different, and they contain their own risks. For example, someone abusing weed may be putting them at risk of developing psychosis. While alcohol abuse comes with the risk of later experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

If you are worried about a loved one being drunk or high, we are here to help. There are ways to tell the difference so you can make the next steps as informed as possible.


Signs of Alcohol Intoxication

You can’t always rely on counting drinks when telling if a person is drunk. Different people have different tolerances, so while one drink might be fine for one person, it could get another drunk. So instead, you need to look more for the physical signs that someone is drunk.

The signs that a person is intoxicated are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Slower reaction time
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of coordination
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Possible nausea
  • Lack of spacial awareness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Sleepy

This is standard for most people who are drunk. However, you should also be able to recognise when someone is blackout drunk, as this is a more severe form of intoxication, which can have serious medical implications and risks.

The signs of a blackout drunk are:

  • Can barely walk
  • Struggles to stay upright
  • Struggles to stay awake
  • Vomiting
  • Can’t be woken up

If you know that someone is blackout drunk and you are in a safe environment, you must place them in the recovery position to prevent them from choking on their vomit and potentially dying.


Signs That Somebody Is High

Drug use can be a bit harder to spot because sometimes people abuse drugs to get through the day. For example, people use Adderall as a way to focus on schoolwork. It’s often missed unless it becomes a problem.

But don’t worry. There are still signs you can be on the lookout for:

  • Some drug use causes dilated pupils. So if you are in a bright room and a person’s pupils are still big, it is a good indicator that they are high or taking a drug.
  • Smell – Some drugs, such as weed, carry a very particular strong odour that tends to linger on a person. Some people try to cover this up with perfume or smoke outside secretly.
  • Often drugs lead to paranoia, and people who are high may check around to see if they are being followed. They are less likely to trust you, so you must be careful not to get too close.
  • Impaired judgment is also common. This can range from verbal abuse hurled at others to breaking the law by picking fights or trying to drive.
  • Some drugs, known as stimulants, cause a person to act very wired. They will seem full of too much energy and talk very quickly, often changing the topic mid-sentence.
  • Munchies are often associated with drug use, and they can lead to a craving for unhealthy or odd food combinations.

Different drugs have different impacts. Smoking weed and being high makes a person appear relaxed, while cocaine does the exact opposite. Being aware of severe behavioural changes is key to identifying drug abuse or signs that someone is high.


How to Tell the Difference Between Drunk and High

It can be hard to tell the difference whether someone is drunk or high, but there are ways to do so. Substance abuse can occur in people who regularly drink, take drugs or smoke, and can cause the following symptoms:

  • Drug abuse tends to result in rapid weight loss
  • Drug abuse can cause teeth loss
  • Alcohol abuse can cause a yellow tint to the skin
  • Drug abuse can cause issues with the nose
  • Drug abuse can leave needle scars on the arms
  • Alcohol abuse is legal in the UK and is more likely to be done out in the open
  • Alcohol abuse results in nausea and hangovers
  • Drug abuse may be done alongside alcohol abuse to get more of an impact from the pills
  • Drug abuse requires the use of a lot of cash, while alcohol abuse can be paid for anyway

Knowing the difference is the first step towards helping someone deal with their substance use or addiction.


How to Help Someone Who is Drunk or High

Practically speaking, if you want to help someone, you need to know how. When it comes to helping someone under the influence, you can do a few simple things. The first is to ensure that they are kept in a safe area where they could be taken advantage of.

Next, if they pass out, check to see if they are still breathing and then place them in the recovery position.

After this, you will need to monitor them. If they are awake, try to get them to drink some water and eat hearty foods like bread to try and sober them up. This often only works for alcohol abuse.

Most importantly, you need to try and stop them from abusing more substances. So don’t get them more drugs or alcohol if they ask. If at any point you are concerned they are experiencing an overdose, don’t hesitate to call an ambulance. No one will get in trouble. You are protected by law to seek medical help.

Symptoms of an overdose are:

  • Changes in consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Seizure
  • Foaming at the mouth

These symptoms tell you the person is in danger, and you must act. Emergency responders will talk you through what to do from there.


How to Avoid Potentially Dangerous Situations

While it’s noble to want to help people in this situation, your safety has to come first. Because of that, you must avoid danger from people under the influence.

So, first of all, you must avoid confrontation and try to de-escalate as much as possible. Don’t pick a fight or try to stop them from accessing drugs or alcohol. If you are in their way, you could be attacked.

Next, be aware of your surroundings. Depending on where you are, there could be used needles lying about, which could contain STDS or drugs.

Be prepared to leave. Helping someone is great, but if you’re in danger, then you need to go. You can phone for advice on 0800 470 0382 or use our contact form to get advice about addiction.