In the absence of an 'instant sobriety' pill, a pill or injection that would instantly sober someone up (like Naloxone does to opioid use), I'm wondering if we should go the other way…

You see, I find myself taking drunks into A&E on a regular basis, once there they are given a nice soft trolley to lay on, some poor nurse to clean them up and often some IV fluids to counter the dehydrating effect of alcohol. This means that any hangover is prevented, or lessened.

Like rats who receive a pellet every time they push a lever, these drunkards know that they can drink to excess and the 'emergency' services will babysit them and make sure that they are fine in the morning.

And then we wonder why alcohol related calls are climbing by 12% every year.

I have two solutions.

First – being unable to instantly sober someone up, we should work on a pill that enhances the effects of a hangover while making any use of analgesia ineffective. By making the hangover worse we would be teaching these little alcohol sodden rats that drinking to excess is bad. Send them home sober but vomiting, with a headache and with aching joints.

Secondly – there should be enacted, in legislation, a new policy where – if you are drunk and incapable, any ambulance called to you is allowed to go through your pockets and take any money for themselves (or the ambulance service benevolent fund if that crew is feeling particularly charitable). Not only will this inspire the rats to keep some degree of sobriety, enough to defend themselves from the grasping hands of the ambulance service, but it will also remove some of the money that would no doubt only go on to be spent on alcohol.

It would also have the happy side effect of boosting my pay packet.

Please send the Nobel prize for medicine to the usual address.

30 thoughts on “Hungover”

  1. If you also make that cells without a bed but a matress you can hose down and charge the guys for their treatment before they can leave, this would be 1. save for them, 2. cheaper, 3. less work for the hospitals, 4. more fun for the ambulance crews because they know the drunks get what they deserve and 5. maybe the drunks will think twice next time. Not sure on the last point, though…

  2. Just enforce the existing offense of being drunk and disorderly in a public place. That and defacing of public property when they piss/vomit in the street.

  3. I love the idea of the “You have been very silly” room. Our local A&E could do with one as well. I'd add the suggestion of having them woken up and thrown out in the morning by an old-school “Sarn't Major” type with a voice like a foghorn.I've been drunk a time or two, but I've never been so drunk I couldn't get myself home.

  4. They make such a drug. It's called disulfiram, marketed in the U.S. as Antabuse.Of course, in a small percentage of patients, it can lead to respiratory depression, cardiac collapse and death if given to someone who is already drunk…

    …but hey,you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!

  5. all patient monitoring would be done remotely, the only time staff would need to enter would be to spray people with the firehose (if they've been sick or what have you), or just to walk through crashing some pans against each other.See? Flawless!

  6. Ingenious idea, I have been trying to find that drug for many a year. Having just finished a stint of nights in A&E perpetuated by the drunk and incapable i would welcome this fantastic new invention.I would also like to mention to those out there (none of whom probably read this but hey) – YOUR DRINK WAS SPIKED – WITH VODKA!!!!! (one too many last night!!)

  7. Where I live there is a very deep-rooted problem with alcoholism. The area is not a run-down slum estate, it's in a well established 'new town' but with high unemployment. Many of these permanent drunks have said the taxpayer funds their addiction through a 10 daily beer allowance. So how can they be made to cease their drinking when they are given enough to get a dozen 2ltr bottles of gut rot white lightning?

  8. Alternatively, set up a secondary service for drunks. All you'd need is a van with wipe down surfaces for transport, and a room full of beds for them to sleep it off. The need for trained medical staff would be 1 doctor and 1 nurse, with a bunch of non medically trained back up staff. Save money, time and effort.

  9. I like the odd drink or six but, bizarrely, have never had cause to call the emergency services.It may sound a little heartless but can't you just leave them in the gutter to choke on their own vomit ?

  10. Haha curahn yours is the sensible option which will have to happen eventually…In the meantime I think ambulance staff should go for simple robbery. A policy quick to implement, it would help morale for those dealing with drink!

    They'd have to share funds with the hopsital of course…

  11. I like the idea of a financial penalty to contain the rat infestation of our emergency services and A&E dpartments.I would like to see the creation of an offence for 'reckless disregard for the purpose of an emergency vehicle and crew' with the added refinement that the rate at which they would be fined is measured in units of alcohol.

  12. I'm sure you know this Mr Reynolds, but if you administer naloxone to a well physically-dependent opiod user, sober isn't really the word, I'd imagine instant withdrawal isn't too pleasant.Also, the naloxone wouldn't be so far away from your 'dream drug' for drunks, its been shown to increase the sensitivity to pain (and decrease the effectiveness of placebo analgesics!) in opiod-naive people, so it'd probably make a hangover worse…

  13. Yep. Just stick them in the gutter in the recovery position with their faces up against the drain. then their puke will travel into the sewer, which is where they belong anyway..

  14. How about just having a special treatment room off the side of A & E? One with walls painted in optical illusions of puce and lime green, which is always kept at least 3 degrees too hot for comfort, and lit by several defective strobe lights. Also, it has a large cauldron of cabbage and onions boiling at all time, and a radio playing the same Steps song on a perpetual loop, through screachy crackly speakers at ridiculous volume.I'd call it the “You have been very silly room”. As “hangover torture chamber” would be harder to get past an ethics comittee…

  15. How they get into that state is beyond me, ive got 3 brothers all of which are students we all manage to make it home on a night no matter what state we are. Our poor mother gets the cleaning up job not A&E. Its about time people learnt to look after their friends.Love the torture chamber idea

  16. But they've probably drunk all their money by that point, that's why they are using you, not a taxi, to get home.I don't know about an increased hangover pill but couldn't you manage a swift and subtle 'accidental' kick to their groins? They'll notice THAT next morning but wont remember how it happened.

  17. Ambulance driver was faster, antabuse is the drug you would like, it was used to help sobering up alcoholics, you accepted to take it and you were left out of jail.If you drink on it you will think you are going to die,you won't but it's not a pleasant trip.

    Some very common mushrooms have the same effect, the ink cap, Coprinus atramentarius, is a park mushroom (grows on all sort of, ehem, droppings) and if eaten alone is safe, if eaten with any alcohol gives very unpleasant side effects: flushing, palpitation, headache, nausea… This effects, called “the antabuse effect”, can last for a few days after ingestion, meaning you forgot the mushrooms but you drink a beer and you will remember them again, or not and call an ambulance, of course…

    Help, somebody spiked my mushrooms!

  18. I don't know how you deal with them. I'm 23 and the amount of horror scenes I have either scene or been caught up in when I'm out is nothing worth mentioning. I can drink like the best of them but I also know my limits and thankfully, that has helped me save a couple of lives but it also infuriates me. Everytime something bad happens because someone's drunk they take away the needs of something else who might be genuinely ill and it isn't their fault. I love a good night out like any girl my age but I don't see why, just because someone gets paraletic, they should reap the benefits of the ER!

  19. Tom has often posted on here about being a 'Maternataxi', so will doubtless see an article in the papers today about a pregnant woman in Leicester who was (allegedly) 'refused' an ambulance and made to walk to hospital. She got her own back by giving birth on the pavement outside and is now complaining to the press.I would just like to point out for anyone reading the gasps of horror in the public comments sections of the papers online that this woman lived 100m from the hospital. Her street address was given in my local newspaper -The Leicester Mercury (so is already in the public domain) as 'Grisedale Close', so anyone interested in seeing the spatial relationship between her street and the Leicester Royal Infirmary can look up 'Grisedale Close, Leicester' on Multimap.

    I live in Leicester near the Royal Infirmary and there is a one way system in operation all round that area. It would have likely taken much longer for an ambulance to travel round the one way system to collect her then take her back to the hospital than it would for her to walk 100m.

    Not that the National Papers are mentioning that…

  20. I'd suggest a magic marker. Just write “Do no sell this person alcohol, thanks, Ambulance Service” on their forehead. Might cut them off at source!Date the comments, and you'll have a handy way of tracking your regulars.

  21. I'm a fan of the classic dropping them off at the furthest hospital you are allowed to reasonably allowed to go to.That way they learn that if they abuse the service they'll have a headache trying to get home the next day – and it wont just be from the hangover!

  22. nice thoughts yet I'm sure that one of your managers might think less customers=less ambulances needed=more bonus for them?

  23. I suppose it all comes down to risk….Who wants the responsibility of explaining that a serious illness was missed because “everyone thought he was drunk.”

    Tom, being practical what checks need to be done on everyone who looks drunk to establish if they are drunk or ill.

    If they are just drunk presumably there is then a duty of care to ensure they do not choke on their own vomit.

    If the only current facility where that duty of care can be given is A&E then our limitation is in facilities.

    I have heard of drunk areas set up in town centers on New Years Eve and at big events. Do you know what guidelines these places work to?

    I detest the drunk and drugs binging wasters but if I was found looking drunk one night I would want someone to check if I was really ill before dismissing me. ( Would never happen I rarely go out at night because of so many drunk idiots, however I might be concussed post RTA and have been carrying alcohol.)

    With my limited knowledge of the hospital guidelines I would advocate for a drunk tank outside A&E so the actual department can focus on ill people (drunk or not).

  24. Edinburgh has something like you describe, but I've only actually heard of it because I'm a member of the Red Cross who actually helps staff them.As a F/aider I'm happy to treat them, partially because they are generally simple enough to treat and also because more qualified personnel can then go and treat any more serious cases. All that said recently drunks have worn my patience extremely thin. I get where Tom is coming from though, they rarely need hospital treatment, and even rarer still actually appreciate the service given to them.

  25. Re: Naloxone – I agree, it's why my crewmate and I prefer to just 'bag' the opioid overdose and maybe administer only a tiny amount IM.My days of 'punishing' heroin overdoses is well and truly over…

  26. How about sending out a kebab van along with the ambulance? Let them choose at the scene, if they go for the kebab van, you're freed of all responsibility for them…

  27. In all seriousness, I don't know why these people aren't being lifted for being D&I instead of carted off to the hospital. I did wonder if perhaps they should be carted off to the local psychiatric unit for a few days “observation” – clearly anyone irresponsible enough to drink to the point where they cannot look after themselves has some sort of mental problem, and that does warrant some investigation and possibly treatment.I do like to go out for a pint or four, but I have never got myself into a state where I needed anyone else's help to get home – well, unless you count hailing a taxi, coherently explaining the slightly complex route to my house, and paying the guy at the end of the journey as “help”.

  28. That's not far from a suggestion made by a senior police officer of my acquaintance. His idea is to have a booze bus that collects drunks. The crew would be a couple of police officers and an EMT, but the bulk of the work would be done done by four people who'd been picked up for being drunk in the past. They'd do the picking up, the cleaning, etc etc.The booze bus would take drunks to a drunk tank on the outskirts of town, well away from any public transport or houses. Drunks would have to stay there for 24 hours, after which they would be given two options: court and a hefty, income-related fine on conviction or accept a “drunk's bracelet” and a 14-evening stint on the booze bus. All cash found on them would be confiscated for the tank's running costs, they'd be booted out in the clothes they were in when they arrived and then told to find their own way home.

    The drunk bracelet wouldn't monitor where the wearer was, but would have an RF tag embedded in it. If the wearer went within 10 metres of any establishment selling alcohol (all of which would be required to have detectors in their doorways), the bracelet would alternate between a very loud warble and an amplified message saying “I AM A DRUNK. DO NOT SELL ME ALCOHOL.”

    First-time drunks would get the bracelet for seven days, second time for a month, and third time for three months. Fourth and successive times would see them sent to a drying out facility for six months as they would obviously need treatment for alcoholism.

    I liked the idea a lot.

  29. “why these people aren't being lifted for being D&I”Paperwork.

    To nick a drunk:

    An arresting officer. More likely 2 or 3 officers due to the 2 pint Van Damme effect.

    A van, containing 2 more officers.

    A custody sergeant

    An empty cell for the night.

    Someone to check on them every 30 minutes.

    And they are NOT worth prosecuting, it takes far too long and it's not really a result. They'll get a fine that's about the same as a decent night out.

    We need American style drunk tanks, and automatic punishments that are immediate and will seriously inconvenience and (preferably) embarress the perp. I'm thinking next day, all day chain gangs cleaning up the same city / town centres that they were in the night before.

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