Module 12: working with intoxicated young people: learner's workbook

3.2 Initial response to intoxication

Page last updated: 2004

Once you have established that a young person is intoxicated it is important to undertake an initial assessment of the seriousness of the situation and decide whether immediate action needs to be taken (e.g. calling an ambulance). All three aspects of Zinberg's model should be considered in the initial response to an intoxicated young person. The types of questions you should ask at this point include those shown in the diagram below.

If you have determined that the young person is not in any immediate danger of overdose or self-harm you may need to stay with them until the effects of the drug have worn off. Wherever possible, you should explain to the young person what is happening and consider who they are with, where they live and who may need to be contacted.

Diagram: Zinberg's model

Text equivalent below for Diagram: Zinberg's model
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Text version of Diagram

The three components that lead to the drug use experience are the drug, the individual and the environment. Questions related to each component are listed below.


  • Which drugs were used?
  • Mode of administration (e.g. injecting, snorting, inhaling etc)
  • How long since last dose?
  • The time taken to consume the drug
  • How much of the drug was taken?
  • Was more than one drug taken?
  • Is this typical use?


  • How old?
  • Size?
  • Gender
  • Mood/emotional state
  • Tolerance


  • Setting – using with friends or alone?
  • Park/street or someone's home?