Your (more or less) complete guide to Geneva: Alcohol and the Law

Disclaimer: We do not encourage drinking alcohol, especially in excess. It is illegal to purchase ANY alcohol under the age of 16. Drinking on school property at any age is strictly prohibited.

With the school starting and people coming back to Switzerland after the holidays, more of us are now going out into Geneva drinking. Although the best way to stay safe is obviously to not drink too much, unfortunately sometimes people pass the line between hilariously drunk and dangerously intoxicated. It only takes one person and a few simple steps to avert serious permanent effects and even death.

More than 35,000 people were admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning in England in 2010/11

Photo: GIPHY
Photo: GIPHY

One of the effects of alcohol is it reduces your decision making skills, so that one extra beer or shot (it is illegal in Switzerland to buy alcohol over 15% until the age of 18) that may seem like a good idea at the time can push you or your friends into a dangerous level of drunkenness. This can lead to alcohol poisoning, liver damage and increased risk of accidents. The infographic below shows the do’s and don’ts on how to deal with someone who has become dangerously drunk.


Here are the main risks and how to deal with them:

  • Choking on their own vomit
    • If they are still conscious keep them sitting up and awake.
    • If they are passed out then lie them on their side in the recovery position and check they are breathing properly and that their hand is supporting their head. Ensure that their mouth is clear and their tongue is not down their throat. The head should be lower than the body so that fluids can drain from the mouth.

      recovery position
      The recovery position. Photo: BBC
  • Severe dehydration
    • If they can drink then give them some water.
    • Do not give them coffee or more alcohol as this will mean they will become even more dehydrated.
  • Hypothermia
    • Keep them warm by giving them coats and jumpers, from the people around you if you have to.
    • Even if they claim to be too hot ensure they are covered up as the alcohol will give the impression of being too hot.
  • Accidents
    • Make them sit down and do not let them walk/run around.
    • Keep them away from busy roads and any water that they could drown in.

If you feel like they are not getting better, do NOT wait until its too late, call 144.

Photo: AllPosters
Photo: AllPosters

3 ways to  avoid getting dangerously drunk

  1. Eat. A large meal before you go out and snacks between drinks will slow down the absorption of alcohol.
  2. Pace yourself. Sipping a non alcoholic drink or water between alcoholic drinks will mean you will drink less over the night.
  3. Don’t mix. Mixing alcoholic drinks can result in you losing track of how much you have drunk meaning you may not realise you have drunk too much until it is too late.

Sources: and

Click here if you want to find out more.

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