California law protects you from “getting in trouble” if you call emergency services for yourself or anyone else for an overdose or an emergency related to the use of alcohol or illegal/legal drug use regardless of your age. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you are concerned for yourself or a friend! Read more below about how you can stay safe and be prepared in an emergency.
(a) Notwithstanding any other law, it shall not be a crime for a person to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, if that person, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for another person experiencing a drug-related overdose that is related to the possession of a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia of the person seeking medical assistance, and that person does not obstruct medical or law enforcement personnel. No other immunities or protections from arrest or prosecution for violations of the law are intended or may be inferred.
(b) Notwithstanding any other law, it shall not be a crime for a person who experiences a drug-related overdose and who is in need of medical assistance to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, if the person or one or more other persons at the scene of the overdose, in good faith, seek medical assistance for the person experiencing the overdose. No other immunities or protections from arrest or prosecution for violations of the law are intended or may be inferred.
(a) Any person under the age of 21 years shall be immune from criminal prosecution under subdivision (a) of Section 25662 and subdivision (b) of Section 25658, where the person establishes all of the following:
(1) The underage person called 911 and reported that either himself or herself or another person was in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption.
(2) The underage person was the first person to make the 911 report.
(3) The underage person, who reported that another person was in need of medical assistance, remained on the scene with the other person until that medical assistance arrived and cooperated with medical assistance and law enforcement personnel on the scene.
(b) This section shall not provide immunity from criminal prosecution for any offense that involves activities made dangerous by the consumption of alcoholic beverages, including, but not limited to, a violation of Section 23103 of the Vehicle Code, as specified by Section 23103.5 of the Vehicle Code, or a violation of Sections 23152 and 23153 of the Vehicle Code.
Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States approximately 260 people die from alcohol related causes every day.
Nearly 40% of those aged 12-20 report having consumed alcohol with over 11% reporting binge drinking behavior (defined as 4-5 drinks in one occasion) in the past month.
What to do if you suspect alcohol poisoning
Do not hesitate to call 911. You are protected from legal consequences by state law (see above)
How to tell if a person needs emergency medical attention
Alcohol poisoning symptoms can include:
Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
Low body temperature (hypothermia)
Passing out (unconsciousness) and can't be awakened
If you are unable to wake the person, they struggle to tell you their name, the general time, or where they are, call 911
Unsure of what to do?
Use poison control's online triage tool to determine if a person needs emergency help OR
Call poison control at (800) 222-1222 24 hours a day
Be ready with your best estimates of the person's weight, what they consumed, the amount they consumed, and over what time. Poison control will provide direction as to what action to take and if you should contact emergency services.
The Need for Substance Abuse Education and Resources is High
Drug use among 8th graders increased 61% between 2016 and 2020.
By 12th grade, 62% of teenagers have abused alcohol.
50% of teenagers have misused a drug at least once.
43% of college students use illicit drugs.
86% of teenagers know someone who smokes, drinks, or uses drugs during the school day.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
SAMHSA is a government agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This online tool allows you to search mental health and substance abuse programs of a wide variety by zip code.
Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) Virtual Meetings
Pop into a virtual meeting with other students/teens/young-adults facilitated by SMART recovery. Meetings run throughout the day every day. SMART Recovery meetings are practical, open discussion forums where youth can ask questions, bring up topics, and learn real-world applications for SMART tools. The meetings are facilitated by experienced and compassionate volunteers, who help guide discussion, while providing a safe and welcoming environment for youth to work on recovery.
Resources for People of Color
In addition to the resources listed above, we encourage BIPOC to check out the following resources that are designed by and for our communities.