Signs of a drug overdose

Although I have been offered prescriptions for narcotic painkillers after various dental and medical procedures, I did not understand the extent to which these prescription drugs were being abused until I started researching to educate myself.  I recall my sons and their friends talking about kids at school selling drugs taken from the family medicine cabinet and also seeing kids in college snorting Oxycontin in the dorm.  Each of us should be able to identify when someone may be overdosing.

(From the 12 Keys Rehab blog post “The Most Common Drugs People Overdose On”)

There are multiple signs that a person is overdosing. Some of the signals are obvious, while others aren’t. Let’s take a closer look at the signs of an overdose.

Signs that a person is overdosing
Signs of a drug overdose vary depending on the substance the user ingested. While many symptoms are the same across the board, it’s important to be able to recognize what is going on, in order to initiate the proper response.

It’s not always obvious when someone is overdosing. In many cases, such as opioid pain relievers and heroin, the effects of the drug can look a lot like an overdose.

A common misconception is that a person has to be obviously unconscious or in severe distress to have an overdose, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the person is so heavily under the influence of the drug that they aren’t even aware an overdose is happening.

In addition to a person being unconscious, there are several other signals of an overdose:

  • They are having a seizure.
  • They are experiencing severe head pain.
  • They are experiencing severe chest pain.
  • They are having difficulty breathing.
  • They are extremely agitated, anxious, confused or delirious.

It’s also important to remember that it isn’t necessary for someone to be showing every symptom listed to be overdosing.

For myself, I have decided against using these prescriptions and instead rely on higher doses of over-the-counter pain relievers if needed.

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