Author: James Anderson

How to Help Someone That Has Overdosed: 9 Steps

how to help someone who overdosed

In most communities, any person can get and carry naloxone on them, not just medical professionals. It’s important to receive training on how and when to use naloxone. The best methods remove opportunities for accidental overdose or triggers for intentional overdose in the first place. A confidential and anonymous resource for persons seeking treatment for mental and substance use disorders in the United States and its territories.

It can be difficult for people who use opioids or other substances to know what to expect when using nonmedical forms of opioids. This is because when they’re not regulated medically, they often have varying levels of potency. They may also be combined with other substances like heroin, high-grade fentanyl, carfentanil (an extremely strong opioid used by veterinarians to treat large animals like elephants) or other unknown substances.

Help and Resources

Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio)The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created an online resource to raise awareness about naloxone. If you have depression or suicidal thoughts, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can help you get the psychiatric care you need. A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States. Ambulatory care pharmacist Ashley Jones, PharmD, BCACP, explains each step in further detail below. If you’d like to learn more about helping drug addicts, check out our in-depth interview with Catherine Boswell, PhD.

If you don’t know the person, yell and ask if they need help. An overdose happens when your body is overwhelmed by the amount of toxic substances in your system. These substances can be medications, alcohol, other drugs or a combination of each. While North America currently has the highest rate of opioid overdoses in the world, opioid overdose continues to be a global issue.

If you or someone you know uses opioids, it’s important to carry naloxone in case of an overdose. If you or a loved one has opioid use disorder, talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. A trained provider can help guide you to the treatment you need. Opioid use disorder is a medical condition — it requires care just like any other condition. An opioid overdose occurs because the part of your brain that regulates breathing becomes overstimulated by opioids and opiates like heroin, fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin®), morphine, codeine or oxycodone (OxyContin®).

Opioid use can cause you to have shallow breaths and/or a slower rate of breathing (respiratory depression) and can lead to respiratory failure. If you aren’t able to breathe in enough oxygen, oxygen levels in your blood start to decrease, causing your skin, lips and fingers to turn blue (cyanosis). This lack of oxygen can also cause damage to your brain, heart and other organs. In most cases, if you’re not breathing again within three to five minutes, this lack of oxygen leads to death. An opioid overdose happens when opioids negatively affect the part of your brain that regulates breathing, resulting in ineffective breathing.

how to help someone who overdosed

That’s why it’s important to get help from emergency services and make sure they’re not alone even if they respond well to the first dose of naloxone. 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. If taken differently than prescribed, opioids can cause death by slowing, and eventually stopping, a person’s breathing. However, quick response to an opioid overdose, including administering naloxone and calling for medical assistance, can prevent brain injury and death.

Nonprescription opioids account for about 75% of opioid overdose deaths. 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. As a patient, a healthcare provider, or a member of a community you can ensure that the best information is being shared and understood to prevent overdose deaths. If you misuse drugs, quitting is the best way for you to prevent a drug overdose. Know that certain ways of taking drugs can be riskier than others.

How to Help Someone That Has Overdosed

Because of this, it’s essential to call 911 for the person so they can get immediate medical care. An overdose can lead to serious medical complications, including death. The severity of a drug overdose depends on the drug, the amount taken, and the physical and medical history of the person who overdosed. Naloxone is a safe medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin and fentanyl.

  1. Know that certain ways of taking drugs can be riskier than others.
  2. The resources listed below provide guidance for first responders.
  3. For people outside the U.S., laws related to overdoses vary.
  4. For example, the drug naloxone can help reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
  5. Formal training can be obtained through a number of local resources, such as Get Naloxone Now or from Addiction Policy Forum.
  6. In a hospital setting, healthcare providers order several tests to check for any complications.

Learn more about the dangers of fentanyl and how it has taken over the drug supply. Drug Overdose Immunity and Good Samaritan LawsPolicymakers are seeking solutions that will help curb use and overdose by expanding Good Samaritan immunity, and increasing naloxone access. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved naloxone nasal spray (Narcan) as an over-the-counter medicine. The steps for administering Narcan are also easy to follow.

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. If you think someone you love may be using or misusing opioids, talk to your loved one about the dangers of opioids and try to connect them to medical resources. If you don’t have CPR training or are uncomfortable doing mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing, doing “hands-only” CPR (chest compressions) is better than doing nothing, especially if you can’t feel their heartbeat.

Learn more about where to get naloxone and how to use it. Law Enforcement Naloxone ToolkitToolkit for public safety officers provides basic information, resources, and guidance on using naloxone to treat opioid overdose. It includes resources to support establishing a naloxone program. It can be difficult to prevent an opioid overdose because you may not know the potency of the substances you’re using.

Using unregulated opioids increases someone’s chances of overdose and death from overdose. This rise is due to the increased use of prescription narcotics as pain medication and the contamination of nonmedical opioids and other substances with highly potent opioids like fentanyl. Using any kind of opioid has the potential to result in opioid overdose, whether it’s a prescription or nonprescription opioid. About 75% of opioid overdoses are due to nonmedical use of synthetic opioids — mainly forms of nonmedical fentanyl.

How is an opioid overdose diagnosed?

You should also not mix alcohol with prescription drugs without checking with your doctor first. Look for information on your state or local health department’s website or ask your healthcare provider for treatment and referral services available in your area. Prevent and ProtectHelp for people to gain access to naloxone. Also provides tools for organizations conducting overdose prevention and naloxone advocacy, outreach, and communication campaigns. If you know the person, yell their name or try yelling something you know they wouldn’t like, to see if it arouses them.

An opioid overdose happens when opioids excessively stimulate the part of your brain that regulates breathing. This leads to respiratory depression (ineffective breathing) and can cause death if it isn’t treated in time. A drug overdose is taking too much of a substance, whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter, legal, or illegal.