Drug Overdose

Drug overdose death

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is Drug Overdose?

The medical dictionary defines Drug Overdose as the accidental or intentional overuse of either a prescription or over-the-counter drug. By overuse, it is implied that the drug or medicine is taken in an amount larger than it is normally used or it could also mean the person ingesting the drug is sensitive to it. Hence his/her body’s metabolism is unable to process the substance resulting in mild to catastrophic physical and behavioural manifestations.  The unintended side effects of the drug overpower the normal functioning of human body and render him/her physiologically and psychologically challenged. Since, the ambit of this affliction spans from overall well-being of a person to stability of the societal structure in whole, combating this issue requires a comprehensive understanding of the various entities that lead to such a chaotic issue.

 

What are the different types of overdose?

Drug overdose deathThe latest research by National Institute of Drug Abuse states that the number of drug overdose related fatalities increased by a whopping  200% from 2002 to 2016, with around 62,000 people succumbing to death in 2016 alone in USA.  There are different reasons leading to drug overdose- accidental or intentional. Accidental overdose is common amongst children (6 months to 3 year olds) who have a habit of consuming things which are within their reach and adults with impaired mental abilities due to old age or other similar cause , who can mistakenly ingest medicines and face dire consequences. Intentional overdose behaviour is most commonly exhibited by adolescents and adults who purposefully consume the drugs to get high or harm themselves.

 

What are the symptoms of drug overdose?

The most common predictor of an intentional drug overdose is the presence of substance abuse behavior. In such a condition, the reprehensible effects of drug-consumption overpower the mental stability of the abuser and he/she is ultimately dictated by the pressing need of obtaining more of such substance. Typical behavioural traits which reaffirm the fact that drug overdose can have delirious effect on the mind include compulsive lying, manipulative behavior, higher possibility of engaging in criminal acts and bouts of violent abusive behavior especially towards spouse and family members.

drug overdose dilated pupilThe more apparently visible physical side-effect of drug overdose includes:

  • Dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes.
  • Unsteady walking and troubled breathing.
  • Nausea, vomiting and blue fingers.
  • Chest pains, abdominal pain and in some cases asthma attacks
  • High pulse rate
  • Blood in bowels and diarrhoea.
  • Violent or aggressive behavior.
  • Abrupt weight changes.
  • Convulsions, tremors and even unconsciousness.

 

What are the risk factors?

There are abundant risk factors which might be indicative of a possible drug overdose situation. Children and geriatric population, who live in close vicinity of plentiful of medications or are prescribed many such drugs, are highly susceptible to such disposition in the accidental form. Studies indicate that there are many such risk factors in case of intentional overdose form as illustrated below:

  • Gender- Men rank higher in the possibility of developing substance abuse.
  • Age- People in 20s to 30s OD in Heroin where as people above 40s are involved with opiods.
  • A plethora of socio-economic issues such as low-income, mental illness, mixing alcohol with drugs, peer pressure and many more such factors tend to push people towards drug overdose.

 

Effects of some widely consumed drugs

In addition to identifying the occurrence of overdose in the patient, there are certain definitive physical signs of intoxication which are specific to some commonly consumed drugs. A deft observation of these symptoms helps identify which kind of drug the patient is currently addicted to. Most commonly observed demonstrations are:

  • Acetaminophen or Tylenol (common pain-reliever) overdose causes advanced liver damage, nausea, vomiting, paleness and loss of appetite.
  • Cocaine and crack cause seizures, hyper-activity, high blood pressure and increased pulse rate, paranoia and even fatal heart attacks.
  • Anti-anxiety drugs or sleeping pills cause excessive sleepiness, blurred vision, disorientation and mood changes, stupor, coma, shock or even death.
  • Narcotics or opiates such as heroine, morphine, codeine also lead to sedation, low blood pressure, pinpoint pupils and even complete cessation of breathing.
  • Hallucinogens like LSD and Psilocybin could lead bizarre and aggressive behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, mood swings and detachment from people in general.

 

How does drug overdose begin?

Drug abuse often starts with a way to connect socially with friends, peers and colleagues and a strong need to fit in the group often drives a patient wayward. Gradually a person may start needing the substance and the reliance on it to escape real-life problems significantly increases. In most cases, as the patient consumes the drug immoderately, he/she builds up a tolerance towards the drug hence, in a vicious circle, in excessive need of more quantity of drugs for attaining the said blissful state or inflicting harm to self.  Such exponential increase in demand by the body triggers a multitude of nefarious activities committed by the patient often leading his/her brain to lose the ability to focus, make rational decisions and form coherent thoughts.

 

What to do in case of drug overdose?

pharmacy drugs overdose In case of a drug overdose the following measures should be taken while handling the patient in order to safely ensure an effective reversal of the drug’s deplorable effect:

  • Clear the airway by providing CPR and facilitate breathing.
  • Inducing vomit to remove the substance from the body, only if the patient is conscious.
  • If the person is not able to breathe, place them on their side.
  • Do not allow the person to sleep or pass-out.
  • Take the drug/medication to the hospital.
  • Keep checking the person’s breathing rate and pulse rate.
  • Call ambulance immediately and follow the procedures told by them carefully.
  • Try to get a response from the patient.
  • Deal the matter calmly and reassure the patient that the help is coming.

 

What are the different therapeutic measures to combat this issue?

Timely and effective treatment of substance overdose can significantly prevent the onset of drug overdose. The following therapeutic measures have been proven successful in tackling this predilection towards such maladaptive practices:

  • Inpatient or out-patient Detox programs which help in managing the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Residential treatments or rehabilitation centres.
  • Cognitive Behaviour Treatment (CBT) which focuses on altering debilitated thoughts which led the patient to seek the shelter of such drugs. Certain medical assisted treatments can help patients wean off the drug.
  • Counselling sessions to address the underlying psychological issues.
  • Support groups designed to help people willingly concede such habits.

A healthy and well-functioning familial background and an external environment conducive to productive learning and growth an help combat this issue. To ensure that such incidents of drug overdose and the resulting consequences are largely deterred, there has to be  reformations in education, employment and health sectors.

 

    

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Make the person lie on their left side so that they don’t inhale the vomited content. This keeps their airway open.
  • Be very careful with drug consumption if you have a liver condition and/or have suffered from hepatitis recently. It becomes difficult for the liver to get rid of the toxins in such conditions.
  • Call an ambulance immediately. Perform CPR on the affected person, only if you the procedure properly.
  • If you see a person showing heightened symptoms of drug overdose, don’t feed him/her anything. It could choke them. Also don’t try to forcibly restraint them or slap them to bring back to conscious state.
Don'ts
  • Mix different types of drugs or mixing drugs with alcohol as it could result in a massive overdose.
  • Drop out of treatment for substance abuse mid-way.
  • Consume opioid painkillers which are not prescribed to you.
  • Let the over-dosed person fall asleep. Try as much to keep them awake by calling their name or clapping loudly.
  • Make the person have a cold shower or bath. Don’t pour cold water/ ice water over the person.
  • Inject him/her with anything, especially salt water.

 

 

 

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Gynecomastia Gynecomastia is the enlargement of the male breasts. Learn about the treatment options, surgeries, and post-op care for…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Did you know vitamin E can fight these fatal diseases? Vitamin E, an essential fat-soluble vitamin, is key to building strong immunity, for healthy eyes, and skin. It…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
PULMONARY EMBOLISM
IVC Filter Implantation IVC or inferior vena cava implantation is a minimally-invasive procedure to arrest blood clots and prevent them from…
Cellphones and Human Brain
Cellphones and Human Brain – Are Cellphones a Slow Poison to Our Brains? Cellphones have become an intricate part of our lives but they can be highly addictive and overuse can…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Threatened abortion
A few facts about threatened abortion A threatened miscarriage indicates an early pregnancy loss. Look out for symptoms like bleeding, vaginal discharge, and pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis xray
Arthritis Profile Arthritis profile is a panel of primarily blood tests used to detect the presence of arthritis or check…
Splenda
Splenda Splenda is an artificial sweetener derived from Stevia plant extracts. It is low in calories and a popular…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
black seed oil benefits
Black Seed Oil: What secret benefits could it bestow on your health? Black seeds or nigella seeds are tiny packets of health brimming with amazing benefits. Find out why should…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Aphasia brain scans
Neuroendoscopy Neuroendoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgery used to treat disorders of brain, spine, head, etc.
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
Pelvic_ultrasound
Pelvic Ultrasound Pelvic ultrasound is a process where sound waves are used to create image of your pelvic region organs…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
angiography
Angiography Angiography is a diagnostic tool used to determine the narrowing or blockage in the arteries and veins supplying…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
breast-surgery-2
Breast Augmentation Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure done to alter the shape and size of the breast. It uses…
Low carb diet
8 appetizing and mouth-watering recipes that every low-carb dieter should try Looking for delicious recipes that will fix your hunger pang without adding those pesky carbs? Look no further…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…

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