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Drug Overdose: Definition, Treatment, Prevention, and More

In some cases, it may be difficult to tell the difference between a person who may be high from opioids or is experiencing an overdose. Opioids include drugs that originate from poppy seeds, such as morphine, semi-synthetics such as heroin (which producers make from morphine), and synthetic drugs that have similar properties. Opioids affect the opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain. This article will explore common types of opioids, causes and signs of an opioid overdose, and how to provide or seek help.

  1. A drug overdose is taking too much of a substance, whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter, legal, or illegal.
  2. Naloxone vials may contain one or more doses, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the medication and its recommended dose long before it’s needed.
  3. Seek immediate medical help by calling 911 or taking them to an emergency unit.
  4. If you know the person, yell their name or try yelling something you know they wouldn’t like, to see if it arouses them.

In some cases, doctors may give a person activated charcoal, which helps prevent the absorption of some medications and chemicals in the gut. They may also use ipecac syrup, which causes the person to vomit. This can cause any excess medication to leave the body in the vomitus. If the person is experiencing serious symptoms, they may need hospitalization, including heart monitoring, intravenous (IV) fluids, and medication. Second generation antihistamines are less likely to cause toxicity in children than first generation ones, according to a study of more than 9,000 children. Not everyone will experience symptoms of an ibuprofen overdose right away.

Causes of opioid overdose

Saving lives is the North Star of the National Drug Control Strategy, and this effort requires more than just federal resources. In addition to expanding access to lifesaving overdose reversal medication, the Biden-Harris Administration has also invested more funding and broken more barriers to treatment than any previous administration. The Biden-Harris Administration has not only taken historic policy actions, but also invested historic amounts of funding to help make these policy changes a reality. President Biden is investing $83 billion in treatment, which is 42% more than was made under the previous Administration. If someone is unsure if a person is having an opioid overdose or another medical emergency, it is still safe to give them naloxone. If the person is responsive and doesn’t want to go to the emergency room, stay with them until the medication wears off.

Individuals experiencing an opioid overdose will not be able to treat themselves. Naloxone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first over the counter medication to prevent opioid overdose. Check with your healthcare provider, pharmacy, community-based distribution programs, local public health organizations or the local health departments on how to obtain naloxone in your state.

Because you can’t use naloxone on yourself, let others know you have it in case you experience an opioid overdose. Naloxone (Narcan) is the main emergency treatment for opioid overdose. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means it attaches to opioid receptors in your body and reverses and blocks the effects of opioids already in your system. Naloxone can restore normal breathing within two to five minutes to a person who’s experiencing an opioid overdose.

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. In a 2020 study, 75% of overdose deaths involved a prescription or illicit opioid, including 62% that involved a synthetic opioid other than methadone, such as fentanyl. If you use prescription drugs, be sure to use them only as directed by your doctor. Do not combine any medications without first asking your doctor if it’s safe.

County-level sociodemographic differences in availability of two medications for opioid use disorder: United States, 2019

If you’re unsure of the protections, it’s always good to check with your local and state government long before a crisis happens. For people outside the U.S., laws related to overdoses vary. Opioid overdoses are medical emergencies that require quick diagnosis and treatment. Because of this, first responders and people who are trained to ecstasy mdma or molly administer naloxone (Narcan®) mainly rely on symptoms and personal history to diagnose them. As the person experiencing an overdose is usually unconscious, providers rely on bystanders or loved ones to tell them if the person has a history of substance use. They may also find items or substances related to the overdose near the person.


Opioid overdose is life-threatening and requires immediate emergency attention. Recognizing the signs of opioid overdose is essential to saving lives. Learn about the various drug overdose treatments available and what to do if someone you know overdoses on drugs. If the person isn’t breathing, move them onto their left side to prevent aspiration of vomiting.

If the person is still unresponsive and not breathing after administering a second dose of naloxone, you should continue supporting their breathing as best you can. If you suspect a person has overdosed, but you’re not sure what substance they’ve used, you should still give them a dose of naloxone just in case they have opioids in their system. If they didn’t take opioids, naloxone is still safe — it just won’t have any effect. A person can still experience the effects of an overdose after a dose of naloxone wears off.

You can order a bilingual wallet card from the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse that contains simple instructions for recognizing and reversing an overdose using naloxone. People can store naloxone at room temperature, out of the light, and away from the reach of children or pets. The acronym B-L-U-E is a helpful mnemonic that can remind someone of what to do if they think a person is having an overdose. Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio)The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created an online resource to raise awareness about naloxone.

People can also die from opioid overdose when they (knowingly or unknowingly) use an opioid in combination with another substance, such as a sedative or stimulant. These combinations create a level of toxicity in your body that’s deadly. An overdose is when a person consumes “over” the recommended or typical dose of a substance. An overdose can be accidental (i.e., you were prescribed a dose of medication, and your body does not handle it as expected), or it may be intentional. Antihistamines are typically safe when a person takes the correct amount.

You can administer nasal naloxone once every 2–3 minutes, alternating nostrils, until the person is responsive. Nasal naloxone typically comes in a box with two spray devices. After performing CPR, you can administer naloxone to help reverse the opioid’s effects. Drug overdose can result in various short-term and long-term risk factors.

Opiates occur in nature, though they can still be very dangerous in their purified and concentrated forms. It is vital to read labels carefully to be sure a person is not taking too much. If a what are whippits and how can they be abused healthy adult takes only a slightly higher dose of antihistamine, such as accidentally taking two pills instead of one, their symptoms may not be serious, or they may not have any symptoms.

However, as with any medication, they can cause serious adverse effects if someone takes too much. These newer antihistamines are less likely to cause drowsiness and dizziness. Research has found them less likely to cause dangerous effects if a person takes too much.

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