Drug Overdose

Drug overdose death

Last Updated February 21st, 2019

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.

 

    

Facts

  • In 2013, drug overdose was responsible for 46,000 deaths in the USA alone. Around 50% of these were caused by heroin or prescription painkillers.
  • Drug overdose through prescription drugs has surpassed the number of incidents through any other kind of drug (methamphetamine, PCP, heroin combined).
  • Consumption of prescription opioids and heroin has increased massively in the past 5 years.
  • Overdose is not limited to regular users only. People who rarely try it or are trying it for the first time can also overdose.

Facts

  • Studies show that drug abuse kills more people than car accidents, gun shots, or falling.
  • Globally, around 187,000 people succumb to death due to drug overdose.
  • Other addictions have also shown strong correlation to heroin addiction. People who are addicted to opioids are 40 times more likely to be heroin addicts. For cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol, these figures are 15, 3, and 2 respectively.
  • 2011 statistics reveal that around 60 million Americans are using prescription drugs for sleeping. Also, 80% of the global painkiller consumption is done by the USA.

Facts

  • 35-44 is the age group where this addiction is observed to be highest.
  • If a person has a history of suicide attempts, he/she is more likely to get addicted to drugs.
  • 66% of all drug overdose incidents occur when the individual is at home.
  • 55% of prescription drugs are obtained unethically from friends or relatives.
  • Teenage is the time where 90% of the addictions begin.

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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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Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgM The Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgM test detects IgM class of antibodies in the blood.The presence of beta-2…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
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…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
Smiling-happy-pretty-woman-with-flowers
Laughter Therapy– The Best Medicine for Healthy Living Read how laughter influences your stress hormones, belly fat, heart health, and more. Use these simple tips to…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
Elderberry: More than just a folk medicine for cold and sinusitis While the raw elderberry can be a hazard, when consumed in the form of teas and syrup, elderberry…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Internal bleeding brain
Beware: Ignoring these tell-tale signs of stroke could cost a life The signs and symptoms of a stroke differ depending on which part of the brain has been affected.…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…