what do you need to know about drug overdose

What Do You Need To Know About Drug Overdose?

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    Perhaps, like the general public, you don't know a whole lot about drug overdoses. Perhaps you think it's simply a problem for people in the public eye like celebrities.

    In truth, anyone can have a drug overdose at any time. If you are unprepared for an overdose emergency and do not know what to do, you may lose a loved one.

    Learning the signs of an overdose and how to respond quickly can be a lifesaver. What is an overdose, and why do we often hear about people who have taken too much of a drug and ended up in the hospital or worse as a result of their actions?

    You should have a better understanding of what an overdose is after reading this definition, which includes a look at the common signs that someone has consumed more than their body can handle. Read on to learn what to do in the event of a drug overdose and find out the information you need to know.

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    What Is A Drug Overdose?

    drug overdose

    A substance overdose occurs when an individual takes in more of a drug than their system can safely handle at once. This medical issue is also commonly known as an OD. A drug overdose is still possible even when the prescribed dosage is followed to a T. However, an overdose can still occur during a suicidal attempt.

    One of the most prevalent causes of unintentional drug overdose is that the user does not realise the full strength of the prescription they have taken. Moreover, it's probable that they are unaware of their own risk tolerance. If the person is a first-time drug user, has recently lost a significant amount of weight, or has recently resumed heavy drug use after a period of abstinence or reduced usage, this information is very pertinent.

    It's possible that a user won't have built up a tolerance to the previous dose if the drug's potency and composition are unknown, or if they've recently gone through detox and relapsed. The possibility of an overdose rises as a result of this. Because they buy drugs from strangers, drug users have no idea how much of any given narcotic is in the amount they are given. Illegal narcotics are often cut with other chemicals, some of which the user may not even realise are present.

    Accidental overdoses from prescription pharmaceuticals are uncommon since their strength and dosage are well-known, and patients may rely on their doctor's instructions for proper dosing. However, this does not rule out the possibility of an accidental overdose of a prescription medication in times of confusion or forgetfulness, especially if the individual has lost a substantial amount of weight since the drug was initially prescribed, or if they have stopped taking the drug altogether or reduced their usual dosage.

    Substances that seem harmless, like vitamin supplements, can actually cause fatal overdoses even though they are legally available without a doctor's prescription. While an overdose on a controlled narcotic is obviously very deadly, an overdose on a drug that doesn't require a prescription could be much more so.

    Preventing Overdoses

    In order to avoid accidental overdoses, parents should store their prescription drugs in a secure location, out of the reach of both children and dogs. Parents should keep prescription drugs out of the reach of their children, even teenagers, because more and more youngsters are deliberately testing out and misusing them for a high.

    Let's say you're imagining you have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse. It would be preferable to enter a rehabilitation centre where you can obtain prescribed methadone or have your withdrawal symptoms thoroughly monitored in this case. If you have recently completed a treatment programme for substance misuse but are still battling with the impulse to use, you should consider reducing the dosage of your prefered medicine. You may not realise that your tolerance has diminished during detox, increasing your risk of overdosing if you resume drug usage afterwards.

    Listed below are some methods that can be used to prevent an overdose:

    • Keep a risk-free environment for patient care. Before taking any drug, it is vital that you read the label carefully. The drug should be taken exactly as prescribed. Keep medications in their original packaging at all times.
    • Do not take any form of medication unless your doctor tells you to.
    • Informing your primary care physician or other healthcare provider about any past overdoses is essential.
    • Do not keep any medicines you are no longer taking at home. Could you return these to the drug store?
    • Drugs, alcohol, illegal substances, and poisons should be stored in a locked cabinet, out of the reach of children.
    • Be very careful if you are also ingesting other substances, such as alcohol. There's a chance they'll react badly, increasing the risk of overdose.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Overdose

    • Stay calm.
    • Put in a request for an ambulance.
    • Place the person gently on their side in the recovery position if they are unconscious but breathing. This posture is known as the recovery position.
    • Before help arrives, you should make sure they are breathing and monitor their status.
    • Do not make any attempts to make the person throw up.
    • They must not be given anything to eat or drink under any circumstances.

    The standard method for treating individuals who have had an overdose of medication as a result of excessive drug usage is for hospital emergency rooms to administer the appropriate care to these patients. Naloxone, which blocks the effects of opioids in the body, is the medication that is typically administered to the patient in the event of an opioid overdose.

    In a hospital, patients may receive treatments that may be incompatible with their use of drugs; as a result, patients will be required to remain in the hospital for a number of days. It's possible that they won't be able to take the medicines for several more days, or possibly even weeks, without running the risk of experiencing yet another overdose.

    Responsibility of a Social Host If someone were to overdose in another person's home or place of business, it is possible that the owner of the property may be held accountable for the incident. In addition, many nations have passed legislation that makes party hosts legally responsible for any alcohol-related injuries that their guests sustain as a result of serving alcohol to minors.

    Whether or not the drugs in question are legal, there is a possibility that this type of liability could be extended to cover adult victims of drug overdoses.

    It can be difficult, both emotionally and legally, to determine who is at fault for an overdose and who is not at responsible for it.

    Drug-induced homicide (DIH) laws often allow for the prosecution of drug distribution that results in an overdose mortality as comparable to homicide or manslaughter. These laws are sometimes referred to as "drug overdose laws." Even though there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not drug impairment driving laws are an acceptable reaction to overdoses, the effects of this increasingly popular prosecutorial strategy on public health are yet unknown.

    How Often Do People Overdose?

    An unacceptably high percentage of drug users will overdose at some point. The yearly death toll attributable to drug overdoses rose from 38,329 in 2010 to 47,055 in 2014, a rise of 23%. The nature of addiction makes overdose a serious risk. A person's body gets thrown off-kilter after experiencing their first dose of a drug. After that, the medicine will send a wave of sensations across the user's body.

    This kind of manipulation is generally not well received by our bodies. The brain begins to make adjustments to its systems in an effort to kerb the body's overreaction in the future. The next time the person consumes drugs, he will need a much higher dose to achieve the same effects as previously. The body has adjusted to the drug after that dose, thus a higher dosage is required going forwards. Drug users constantly fight their own bodies when they're high. As a result, many people put themselves at danger of an overdose simply by taking too much of a substance.

    Factors Of Danger

    There are numerous factors that increase the likelihood of a drug overdose. The following are some examples:

    Incorrect Storage of Drugs 

    Toddlers and infants have a natural inclination to explore their environment by putting things in their mouths. Those kids could get their hands on medications if they aren't properly stored. If medicines aren't properly packaged and stored away from youngsters, there's a higher chance that they'll accidentally overdose on them.

    Not Knowing Or Following Dosage Instructions

    Adults can take too much medication if they don't follow the dosing instructions correctly. Overdosing on an otherwise harmless drug is possible if you take too much of it or if you begin taking your dosages before your doctor tells you to.

    A Past Of Intentional Misuse Or Addiction

    Overdose is possible for people who have a history of drug abuse, whether it be prescription drug misuse or illegal drug use. If the behaviour is habitual or leads to addiction, the danger increases dramatically. Taking more than one drug at once, mixing drugs, or taking drugs together with alcohol all increase this danger.

    A Personal Or Family History Of Mental Disorders

    Another possible risk factor for drug overdose is a history of mental illness. Overdosing can be precipitated by a number of causes, including depression and suicidal ideation. Even more so if these indicators are ignored.

    Long Term Effects Of Meth Uses.

    Usage of meth can result in dependence and addiction, and long-term use can have detrimental repercussions on the body and the mind. It leads to long-lasting brain changes, some of which may be reversible only in part, if at all. Long-term meth usage has the possibility for the following side effects:

    • Anxiety.
    • Cardiovascular issues include but are not limited to heart attacks, palpitations, irregular heartbeats, and cardiac arrest.
    • Brain cells were harmed.
    • The illness is characterised by a severe lack of appetite and a rapid loss of body weight.
    • increased risk for developing vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease, or a stroke.
    • Meth users are at increased risk for developing respiratory illnesses such bronchitis, pneumonia, and chronic cough.
    • Periodontal disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss are the three most serious dental issues.
    • Problems remembering
    • Changes in temperament.
    • Meth addicts who snort the drug risk nasal irritation, nosebleeds, and even septal perforation.
    • Seizures.
    • cuts and scrapes
    • Meth users have a higher risk of contracting hepatitis and HIV, as well as acquiring "track marks," due to their habit of injecting the drug.
    • Inability to get to sleep.
    • Aggressive or violent actions.


    Substance overdose signs and symptoms can differ widely between individuals, across drugs, and even between different dosages of the same drug. Yet, these are typical manifestations:

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    • You may have various symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and fatigue.
    • a momentary loss of awareness, trouble breathing, and a struggle to keep walk-induced rage, hatred, or physical aggression
    • shaking, convulsions, hallucinations, or delirium

    Seek emergency help if you or someone you know exhibits any of these signs and you suspect an overdose. The best person to judge whether or not these symptoms indicate an overdose is someone who has either used drugs themselves or who has watched the use of drugs by others. The success rate of drug therapy can be greatly improved by prompt medical attention given during an overdose.



    It's possible that drug overdose treatment would change dramatically based on the specifics of the overdose. Having a precise idea of how much of each drug was consumed might be very useful during treatment. There is, however, no assurance that this data will be available indefinitely. The following are some generic approaches to treatment that doctors may take:

    • The chemical's clearance from the body can be sped up by administering intravenous fluids to the patient.
    • In cases when breathing becomes problematic, it may be necessary to clear the airway or insert a breathing tube.
    • Standard treatments for overdosing on a drug include giving the patient activated charcoal, which absorbs the drug in the digestive tract, inducing vomiting to expel the substance from the stomach, pumping the stomach to expel the substance from the stomach, and giving the patient intravenous fluids to speed up the elimination of the substance from the body.

    If a drug overdose occurs, the medical staff may use an antidote. Naloxone, for example, can be used to counteract the consequences of a heroin overdose.

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    Self-Care Steps to Take Following Activated Charcoal Treatment

    Charcoal given in a hospital setting would be passed out of the body with the patient's next bowel movement, which would occur within a day or two. Some recommendations for home care are:

    • Make sure you're always adhering to your doctor's orders.
    • The best way to avoid constipation is to drink plenty of water.
    • If you are currently taking any medications, you should exercise caution when consuming charcoal because it may decrease their effectiveness. It is recommended that women using oral contraceptives also use a backup form of birth control up to the day they are expected to start bleeding. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about possible negative drug interactions caused by charcoal.

    Warnings Regarding the Use of Drugs

    To avoid overdosing on illegal drugs, the safest course of action is to abstain from using them in the first place. But here are some things to keep in mind if you do decide to use them safely:

    • After a long period without using illegal narcotics (such as heroin), your tolerance will likely have decreased, necessitating a much smaller amount.
    • Start with a smaller dose when using drugs from an unreliable source or whose purity is questionable.
    • No reaction, no matter how slight or how late, warrants continuing the drug's use.
    • Make sure you're in a safe area with people you can trust by taking these measures.
    • Avoid using the substance when you are alone; either tell someone where you will be and what you will be doing, or use the substance only in the company of another person.
    • Naloxone, a drug that can temporarily counteract the effects of opioid medicines like heroin, morphine, and oxycodone, should never be far from the reach of someone who uses these substances on a regular basis.
    • Verify that you are up-to-date on the latest drug safety announcements. Remember that there may still be other counterfeit or contaminated drug goods in circulation, even if a warning has not been issued in relation to a specific drug product.

    Causes And Effects Of An Overdose

    There are a few potential causes of overdosing:

    • Ingestion of the wrong chemical or combination of substances at the wrong time, in the wrong amount, or in the wrong place can lead to accidental poisoning if the victim is unaware of the potential risks involved. An example of this group would be someone who takes a drug in the hopes of getting a desired effect but who is unaware of the substance's potency.
    • If someone overdoses on purpose, they are hurting themselves on purpose.

    No one can say for sure whether a drug overdose was accidental or intentional. It's possible that both of these interpretations are valid to some extent. It's crucial to keep an open mind on the causes of overdoses and not pass judgement on those who have experienced them.

    Paracetamol Overdose

    As well as alleviating pain, paracetamol can help reduce fever. As a rule, you can get it over the counter without a prescription. One of the most commonly overdosed medicines is this one, and it is commonly consumed by youngsters under the age of 10 by accident. Self-injurers commonly choose paracetamol as a drug of choice (suicide attempts). If you take too much paracetamol, you may experience some of the following side effects:

    • Symptoms such as sleepiness, coma, seizures, abdominal discomfort, and vomiting and nausea

    The medication commonly known as paracetamol is also known by the brand name acetaminophen (often known by its brand name, Panadol). Overdosing on paracetamol, which can cause liver damage, is quite easy to accomplish and does not differ greatly from the maximum recommended daily dose.

    Extremely dangerous side effects from taking big doses of paracetamol don't appear for about two to three days after dosing. As a result, treatment should start as soon as possible, preferably before any symptoms appear.

    A paracetamol overdose should always be treated immediately, regardless of how the individual in question appears to be doing physically.

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    First Aid For Overdose

    Someone may have taken too much of a drug if you see any of the following signs:

    • Hold your nerve.
    • If you need to call a medical emergency hotline, dial 000.
    • If the patient is unconscious but breathing, place them gently on their side in the recovery position. The recovery position refers to this specific body angle. Make sure they are able to breathe by repositioning their head so that their chin is lifted and their shoulders rolled back. Their airway will remain open as a result of this. (If they vomit, this can help them breathe and keep them from choking.)
    • Make sure they are breathing and keep an eye on their condition before aid arrives.
    • Try not to make the person sick in any way.
    • Under no circumstances should they be provided with food or drink.
    • Gather up any unused medicine containers to bring with you in case you end up in the hospital.

    Overdose is always a medical emergency, even if the person seems fine at first. Aspirin overdose is an example of this phenomena.

    Consider First Aid And Naloxone Training For An Overdose Response

    Knowing how to administer first aid in a dire situation can be the difference between life and death. Consider:

    Overdose first aid and naloxone administration training - The many health services in Victoria can teach you how to prevent, recognise, and properly respond to a drug overdose. Naloxone, a medicine that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, will be provided to you at no cost if they determine that you are at risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose. A large number of overdose deaths have been prevented thanks to the widespread availability of naloxone. Read the "Where to Get Help" section of this fact sheet for details on the available services.

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