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Eastern Township family shares story of teen’s binge drinking as a warning to others

WATCH: In a heartfelt Facebook post that has been shared more than 20,000 times, a South Shore mother described the 24-hours of terror her family endured after her 16-year-old and a friend son chugged a bottle of vodka. Global's Shakti Langlois-Ortega has more.

One family is sharing their harrowing tale of alcohol poisoning in the hopes of bringing awareness to the extreme, and potentially fatal, dangers of binge drinking.

“Our 16-year-old son decided to drink alcohol for fun with his friends, that’s part of being young, I suppose, but he almost died and that’s anything but normal,” the boy’s mother, Sophie Laroche, wrote on Facebook.

READ MORE: Alcohol poisoning kills 6 a day, mostly middle-aged men

Global News spoke with the mother on Wednesday. Laroche explained her son, Émile, had invited three of his friends to their family farm last weekend.

“All wise boys, they’re gamers, so not ‘party boys’ by nature,” she states, adding they played video and board games and spent some time outside.

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Around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, as she was making dinner, one of her son’s friends came to the kitchen asking for help. Apparently Émile had climbed a tree and couldn’t get down.

“Our son-in-law went off to help [and found my son] caught in a tree, but dead drunk and full of vomit,” Laroche said.

“He managed to get him down from his unfortunate position, rinsed the vomit off him and brought him home.

“Of the four boys, two of them were drunk and throwing up like crazy.”

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The family brought the boys inside, but things went downhill quickly.

READ MORE: Alcohol often an overlooked cancer risk, Cancer Care report warns

“My son was in bad shape and I was worried,” Laroche said.

“His condition continued to deteriorate visibly, he answered my questions and then five minutes later, he’s just grumbling. So, we decided to bring him to the hospital.”

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On the way, Laroche said Émile started gasping, spouting saliva and was unable to hold his head up.

“He stopped reacting, he did not answer my questions and he was taking long pauses in his breathing,” she lamented.

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“That’s when we understood that this situation was more serious than we thought. I was holding his head, emptying his mouth with my fingers. I was shaking every time he skipped a few breaths.”

Once they arrived at the hospital, Laroche says the medical team quickly took over. It was revealed the boy drank about a bottle of vodka in less than an hour.

READ MORE: Parents of student who died of alcohol poisoning sue Dalhousie University

Laroche says Émile had a blood-alcohol level of 36. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 means that 0.1 per cent of your bloodstream is composed of alcohol. The legal limit in Quebec to drive is 0.08.

“That’s not just a little drunk, that’s critical condition,” she said.

Her son was intubated and transported to the Montreal Children’s Hospital intensive care unit (ICU).

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“What unfolded before our eyes was impressive and disturbing, but we were reassured at each stage and were never alone,” Laroche said.

Émile spent the next 24-hours being closely monitored in the ICU. The family was told that his liver and kidneys would be alright, and there was no trace of drugs in his system.

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Laroche says it took hours before Émile started being able to breathe on his own again. She was able to take him home late Sunday evening.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital treats an average of 50 severely intoxicated teens every year, or one per week, said Dominic Chalut, a toxicologist and emergency department doctor at the Children’s.

READ MORE: Alcohol-related deaths remain a ‘silent epidemic’ in Canada: expert

The near-fatal incident has left the family traumatized, Laroche admitted, adding she never thought this would happen to her family.

“As parents, we felt untouchable.” 

She wanted to share their story as a way to stop others from making the same mistakes her son did.

“Young people, do not drink like that. Chugging is dangerous and if you see a friend do it, stop them,” she warned.

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“If you see someone who is drunk, do not leave them alone. Watch them, watch the signs, get help. It’s important because if we hadn’t brought him to the hospital, he could have died.”

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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