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Responsibility and Spring Break revelry

March 9, 2012
The Daily News

The festivities of Spring Break can quickly turn into a medical crisis if too much alcohol is consumed, according to an emergency medicine expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

"Alcohol poisoning is a spectrum that ranges from impairment of judgment all the way to impairment of bodily functions," said Dr. Mark Escott, assistant professor of medicine in the section of emergency medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

When true alcohol poisoning happens, it depresses various bodily functions, including the ability to breathe and the gag reflex, which protects things from going into your airway.

"These are the two things we are most concerned about because they're most commonly associated with death from alcohol poisoning," Escott said.

The amount of alcohol that leads to alcohol poisoning varies from person to person and can depend on a person's weight and how experienced they are with alcohol.

"It's easy for a younger, less experienced person to have more significant and serious effects," said Escott.

Escott says to look out for the following serious signs of alcohol poisoning and seek help immediately:

- If the person is not responsive and their level of consciousness decreases.

- If the person is vomiting along with a decreased level of consciousness.

- If the person is having a seizure.

- If the person's breathing is slowing.

- If the person is in a dangerous place like a hot tub, pool or balcony.

If you see these symptoms, Escott recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately, turning the person on their side and clearing any vomit out of their mouth to prevent choking.

"It's important to remember that someone can pass out before their alcohol level has reached its maximum level, and that's really dangerous," said Escott. "You should err on the side of caution and seek help if there is a concern."

Escott recommends being responsible about drinking and looking out for one another.

Data also shows that you're more likely to commit or be a victim of a crime when there's alcohol involved.

"Be responsible for yourself and your friends, it's not worth risking your life," said Escott.

Alcohol isn't the only Spring Break worry.

U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs has issued a Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Mexico.

General Conditions:

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.

The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality, the State Department said.

Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico.

The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity.

As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere.

U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery, the State Department said.

According to the most recent homicide figures published by the Mexican government, 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, with 12,903 narcotics-related homicides in the first nine months of 2011 alone.

While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed.

The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.

Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region.

Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs.

During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.

The State Department recommends that Americans defer travel to the areas indicated in this Travel Warning and to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region.

The rising number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern.

Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized.

In addition, local police have been implicated in some of these incidents.



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