A college student from Nevada has issued a stark warning to young adults about the dangers of binge drinking, revealing how an underage drinking session at a concert left in a coma and nearly killed her.
Hanna Lottritz, a journalism student at the University of Nevada, Reno, turned 21 on Wednesday, but unlike most people her age, she insists she didn’t celebrate the milestone occasion by heading to the bar – nor does she plan to any time soon.
Explaining her decision to avoid wild parties and over-the-top drinking in an essay shared on her blog, Hannah details the terrifying near-death experience, which took place six months ago, saying: ‘I am writing this because I didn’t realize the importance of drinking responsibly until I was waking up from a coma, and I don’t want anyone to go through what my family and I went through.’
Near-death experience: College student Hanna Lottritz, 21, was left in a coma due to the effects of acute alcohol poisoning after binge-drinking dangerous quantities of alcohol at a concert six months ago
Hanna noted that if she helps just one person by sharing her story, then she will be ‘absolutely ecstatic’.
On July 25, 2015, the college student joined her friends at the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada, where she spend the afternoon playing games and meeting new people.
Hanna recalled having two beers at the Joe Nichols and Jake Owen concert that night but because the people she was with had been drinking all day long and ‘feeling good’ she said she ‘felt a little behind’.
Hanna said she started to feel a ‘little bit of a buzz’ after the concert and drifted away from the people whom she went to the concert with. When she came across some of her guy friends at another campsite, she promised to ‘outdrink’ them.
By 11:30pm, she and her guy friend were challenging each other to see who could chug from a bottle of Black Velvet whiskey the longest.
Speaking out: The Nevada residents hopes that her terrifying ordeal will help others to realize the dangers of casual binge-drinking and motivate people to seek help for alcohol abuse
Painful reminders: When Hanna woke up in hospital she had a tube down her throat and her arms were restrained to stop her from moving it. Above she shares a picture of the bruises caused by the restaints
‘Everything that happened from midnight on is information I gathered from friends because I have zero memory of anything after that,’ she explained. ‘Apparently after I chugged from the bottle, I chugged a solo cup full of Black Velvet whiskey.’
According to what others told her, she claimed was fine but collapsed five minutes later and stopped breathing. Hanna’s friends carried her to the medical tent where she was intubated before she was air lifted to Renown hospital in Reno.
‘I was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication,’ she explained. ‘My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit.
WHAT IS BINGE DRINKING?
Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours.
Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
About 90 per cent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks
Hanna noted that the doctors thought she was brain dead when she came in because she was ‘completely unresponsive’. In addition to not responding to verbal or painful stimuli, she had no corneal reflex and her pupils were ‘sluggishly reactive’.
When she woke up 24 hours later, she had a tube down her throat and her hands restrained so she wouldn’t remove it. Hanna said the first thing she remembers is waking up to her mom holding her hand.
After taking two respiratory tests to prove she could breathe on her own, the tube was taken out. She explained that doctors and nurses stressed how lucky she was to be alive, even asking her if she was trying to kill herself by drinking so excessively. Hanna said she realized that she would never look at alcohol the same way again.
In the aftermath following the horrific experience, Hanna said she quickly learned who her true friends are based on their reactions. While others genuinely wanted to know if she was OK, she could tell others were calling because they wanted gossip about what happened to her.
Hanna went on to cite a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says alcohol poisoning kills six people in the US each day.
The college student noted that she doesn’t expect people to shun alcohol, but she urges them to avoid binge drinking. She credits her friends for saving her life.
‘I could’ve been left alone to “sleep it off”,’ she said. ‘I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,” but I’m alive today because my friends got me help.