Author: Alex Thompson

Drug overdose: Definition, risks, signs, and more

what is a drug overdose

This is particularly relevant for people with opioid use disorders and leaving prison, as they have very high rates of opioid overdose during the first four weeks after release. Death following opioid overdose is preventable if the person receives basic life support and the timely administration of the drug naloxone. Naloxone is an antidote to opioids that will reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in time. Naloxone has virtually no effect in people who have not taken opioids. It can be difficult for people who use opioids or other substances to know what to expect when using nonmedical forms of opioids.

what is a drug overdose

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 106,699 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2021. The healthcare provider may be able to use an antidote for certain drug overdoses. For example, the drug naloxone can help reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. The cause of a drug overdose is either by accidental overuse or by intentional misuse.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs of a Drug Overdose?

Treatment will be dictated by the specific drug taken in the overdose. Information provided about amount, time, and underlying medical problems will be very helpful. Exposure to chemicals, plants, and other toxic substances that can cause harm are called poisonings. The higher the dose or the longer the exposure, the worse the poisoning. Two examples are carbon monoxide poisoning and mushroom poisoning.

Symptoms of a drug overdose may include breathing difficulties, changes in heart rate or body temperature, seizure, stroke, and more. For example, overdosing on opioids adversely affects an individual’s ability to breathe. This lack of oxygen can cause organ damage, unconsciousness, and even death. A drug overdose may occur when an individual consumes too much of a substance. Opioids, stimulants, and other substances can all cause an overdose. Responding quickly can help prevent serious health consequences.

  1. A history and physical examination to look for evidence of drug poisoning will be performed.
  2. WHO also supports countries in monitoring trends in drug use and related harm, to better understand the scale of opioid dependence and opioid overdose.
  3. If they begin to have a seizure, ensure no harmful objects are close to them.
  4. Do not take additional doses to make up for any missed doses.
  5. Prescription opioids are involved in about 25% of all opioid overdose deaths.
  6. A trained provider can help guide you to the treatment you need.

In addition, overdose deaths accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent an overdose, follow a doctor’s directions for all prescription medications. With the right care and prevention strategies, it is possible to treat drug overdoses or prevent them altogether. An opioid overdose happens when opioids negatively affect the part of your brain that regulates breathing, resulting in ineffective breathing.

Opioid overdose

If the naloxone has no effect on them, their symptoms are due to something else. Even after administering this medication, it is crucial to take anyone experiencing an opioid overdose to the emergency room. Overdosing on a stimulant such as cocaine increases heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. This type of overdose can cause heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. The rate of deaths from drug overdose has increased steadily over the past couple of decades. Do not leave it up to the person to tell you they are overdosing; they may not know or not be able to communicate it to you.

Illicit drugs, used to get high, may be taken in overdose amounts when a person’s metabolism cannot detoxify the drug fast enough to avoid unintended side effects. If you think someone you love may be using or misusing opioids, talk to your loved one about the dangers of opioids and try to connect them to medical resources. The term ‘overdose’ is often misused as a descriptor for adverse drug reactions or negative drug interactions due to mixing multiple drugs simultaneously. The following are some questions people frequently ask about drug overdose.

This medication is available in a nasal spray and as an intravenous injection at the hospital. These and other life-saving measures can help reduce the long-term health effects of drug overdose. Each person responds differently, and reactions are hard to predict. Many people who are directed to go to the emergency department may not develop any physical signs of poisoning. Your doctor, your local poison center, or the emergency department of your local hospital may be able to help determine the seriousness of a suspected drug overdose.

Getting medical help quickly can make a big difference in the effectiveness of drug overdose treatment. An overdose can lead to serious medical complications, including death. The severity of a drug overdose depends on the drug, the amount taken, and the physical and medical history of the person who overdosed. A history and physical examination to look for evidence of drug poisoning will be performed. The doctor may order laboratory tests based on the organ systems that can be harmed by the specific drug overdose to make a diagnosis. Risk factors for drug overdose are those that would make someone more likely to abuse drugs, or more likely to accidentally take the incorrect medication or take the wrong dose of a medication.

what is a drug overdose

When in doubt about the correct dosage, consult with a doctor or pharmacist. To avoid an alcohol overdose, avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short time. Drinking a lot of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking) can rapidly increase the amount of alcohol in the blood. This makes it difficult for the body to remove alcohol from the bloodstream and can harm other body parts. Individuals experiencing a stimulant overdose should stay hydrated and cool.

Where Can People Get More Information on Drug Overdoses?

Appropriate use and regulation of opioid analgesics ensures that they are available where needed whilst preventing their diversion and harm related to misuse. If you take a prescription opioid, it’s important to teach your family and friends how to respond to an overdose. Store the opioids safely where children and others can’t find or access them.

When Should You Call a Doctor over a Suspected Drug Overdose?

There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data. Drug overdoses, both fatal and nonfatal, continue to impact our nation. If you have depression or suicidal thoughts, contact your doctor right away.

When it comes to drug overdose, being proactive is essential to reversing overdose and preventing death. If you see these signs of overdose, do not abandon the person out of fear of getting in trouble. You should seek medical help immediately if you have these symptoms or witness them in someone else and suspect they may have overdosed. The most obvious way to tell if these symptoms indicate overdose is if you know you have taken drugs or have seen someone else take drugs.

People with certain mental illnesses need the help of family and friends to assist with medication therapy and to lend social support. Drug abusers also need this same support in order to stay clean and safe. The substance that has been taken may often be determined by asking the person. However, if they will not, or cannot, due to an altered level of consciousness, provide this information, a search of the home or questioning of friends and family may be helpful.