How do you lay a drunk person down?

Dealing with an intoxicated person can be challenging, especially when it comes time to put them to bed or lay them down to rest. A drunk person often has poor balance and motor skills which makes maneuvering them difficult. Additionally, their state of intoxication may cause them to be uncooperative or combative. Knowing the proper techniques to safely lay a drunk person down can help avoid injury to them or yourself. This article will provide tips on how to appropriately lay down an inebriated person.

Assess the Situation

Before attempting to lay a drunk person down, you’ll want to assess the situation. Look at the person and environment to determine:

  • Level of intoxication – Are they still somewhat coherent or completely incapacitated?
  • Risk of vomiting – Do they seem likely to vomit? This poses a choking risk.
  • Combativeness – Will they resist your efforts violently?
  • Obstacles – Is the area clear or cluttered?
  • Hard surfaces – Are there hazards like concrete or furniture to avoid?

This initial assessment will shape your approach. The more drunk and combative they are, the more care needs to be taken.

Speak in a Calm, Respectful Manner

Throughout the process, speak to the intoxicated person in a polite but firm tone. Say their name and explain you are going to lay them down. Even if they are very impaired, some part of them may understand. This helps establish trust and cooperation. Avoid sudden movements or shouting which could agitate them.

Enlist Help

If possible, enlist 1-2 sober, physically fit helpers. Properly laying down a drunk person often requires two people, one at the head and one at the feet. If they are large or combative, extra help is advisable. Make sure your helpers understand the plan and move in coordination. Don’t attempt to lay a violent drunk person down without sufficient assistance.

Clear the Area

Before laying a drunk person down, inspect the area and remove tripping dangers: cords, furniture, clutter, etc. The ideal spot is a flat, open surface like a bed or couch. Avoid hard surfaces like tile. If outdoors, try moving them to grass rather than concrete. The softer and more obstruction-free an area is, the lower the risk.

Protect the Head

Many injuries occur when handling intoxicated people unsafely. The head and neck are especially vulnerable. Be sure to properly support the head and neck when laying them down. Hold the back of the head with one hand and the shoulders/upper back with the other. Slowly lower rather than letting their head drop. Failing to protect the head can result in serious harm.

Roll Onto Side First

Rather than laying a drunk person down flat on their back immediately, start by rolling them onto their side. This serves several purposes:

  • Makes vomiting less likely to cause choking.
  • Allows you to put a pillow or rolled blanket behind their back for support.
  • Safer if they happen to resist or startle.

Gently roll their shoulder back while holding their head fixed. Stop halfway onto the side. Insert a pillow behind the back and head before finishing the roll.

Bend the Knees

Once on the side, bend the person’s legs slightly at the knees. This fetal position helps them lay more comfortably and steadily. Pull the upper leg forward a bit to better prop them on the pillow. Flexing the knees makes them less prone to rolling completely onto the stomach.

Check Arms and Legs

Before leaving them to rest, do a quick safety check:

  • Place arms above head or folded on chest, not pinned beneath.
  • Make sure legs are untwisted.
  • Check circulation by elevating feet and squeezing toes.

Monitoring arms and legs prevents nerve injuries and loss of blood flow. Don’t leave them with an arm trapped painfully under their side.

Roll Onto Back If Vomiting

Sometimes when laid on their side, a drunk person still vomits. If they start retching, quickly roll them onto their back again. Turn head to the side so vomit exits the mouth. Clean out the mouth between heaves. Roll them back onto their side once the vomiting episode has passed.

Place in Recovery Position

The recovery position is the safest technique for leaving an intoxicated sleeper unattended:

  • Lay them on their side as described.
  • Bottom arm stretches out above the head.
  • Top arm crosses chest and pins down the top shoulder.
  • Bottom leg bends for stability while top leg remains straight.
  • Head rests on outstretched arm and is tilted downwards.
  • Open airway by gently titling chin up with hand.

This position is designed to keep the airway open while preventing choking. Drunk people should be monitored regularly and assisted as needed. Never leave an excessively intoxicated person alone for long periods. Check breathing, pulse, and temperature.

Use Cautious Force If Necessary

Aggressive drunks who violently resist help may require force to handle safely. Still take care to avoid injury. Use the minimum necessary force and only with sufficient helpers. Hold the arms/legs still and communicate firmly to calm them. If they remain combative, consider calling emergency services instead.

Carry Bridal Style If Able

For cooperative cases, a two-person cradle carry is preferable to dragging. Stand on either side, crouch down, cross arms to form a seat, then lift together smoothly. If the person can wrap their arms around a helper’s neck, one person can potentially carry them like a bride over the threshold. Use proper posture and leg strength to avoid back injury.

Don’t Restrain Against Their Will

Well-meaning people sometimes tie a drunk person down out of concern for their safety. However, restraining them against their will is unethical and illegal in most places. Only emergency responders have authority to physically restrain someone at risk of self-harm. If they insist on getting back up, allow it and gently guide them.

Watch for Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

While laying an intoxicated person down, stay vigilant for alcohol poisoning symptoms:

  • Extreme confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures
  • Vomiting while asleep or unresponsive to stimuli
  • Slowed or irregular breathing (less than 8 breaths/minute)
  • Hypothermia – body temperature under 35C/95F
  • Bluish or pale skin

If any of the above are present, immediately call emergency services. Also be ready to perform CPR or rescue breathing if breathing stops. Every second counts when alcohol poisoning is suspected.

Let Them Sleep It Off

Once laid down in a secure recovery position, allow the person to sleep undisturbed. Watch them periodically to be safe. Have a bucket and water ready nearby. As they sober up, continue offering calm reassurance. In a few hours they will likely regain coherence but have an awful hangover.


Laying down intoxicated people takes compassion and care. With the proper precautions, you can ensure their safety and comfort. Remember to assess the risks, protect the head, monitor the airway, roll them properly onto their side, and watch closely for emergency symptoms. Stay nearby and help them until sober. By following these tips, you can safely handle even severely drunk people.

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