Dangers of Drug Overdose

Learn more about drug overdose, the serious health consequences, and how a drug overdose can be avoided and prevented.

What is an Overdose?

Hazards due to an overdose of drugs emerge when people consume more medication than their bodies can fully break down, regardless of whether the drug is legal. A person using a legal or illegal drug can experience an overdose of a drug taken for a medical reason or recreationally, and an overdose can be accidental or intentional.

How Does Drug Overdose Happen?

An overdose happens when a toxic quantity of a substance or medicine is consumed. It is crucial to remember that not all overdoses are fatal or life-threatening; however, if an overdose is suspected or has happened, medical help should always be sought.

Dangers of Drug Overdose

What an individual feels during an overdose depends on the substance used. Overdoses are prevalent when a person consumes too much of a particular drug, but they can also occur when a person consumes more than one substance, and the interactions between the substances cause unforeseen consequences.1

A stimulant or alcohol overdose might result in seizures. Seizures can cause injuries by striking body parts against the ground or other objects, but they can also cause brief confusion, loss of consciousness, severe headaches, and brain damage.

Drug Overdose

How Long Does a Drug Overdose Last?

The duration of a drug overdose varies widely depending on the individual, what was taken, and how promptly they received medical assistance. For example, a person may overdose on alcohol and require stomach pumping. In this case, they may be back at home within a day, and their overdose will be finished.

While an overdose of drugs can be frightening, it does not always have to result in death. After an overdose, a person can still live a happy and healthy life, provided the situation is handled correctly.

What Does Overdosing Feel Like?

Overdoses are hazardous reactions that occur when the effects of a specific chemical exceed the brain and body’s usual working limitations. Severe types of these reactions can have fatal implications in many circumstances.

The particular effects of overdose-producing chemicals vary greatly, which means that the sensations experienced during an overdose episode are dependent on the type of substance that caused the reaction.

Signs And Symptoms Of Drug Overdose

The possibility of severe side effects, including overdose, is always present with drug usage. Addiction development will always be a risk whether you abuse alcohol, an illegal drug such as cocaine, or prescriptions prescribed by a doctor, such as opiate pills. 

In many circumstances, if substance misuse behavior continues, there is a significant risk of drug misuse. The signs and symptoms of a drug overdose will be detailed below.2

Dilated Pupils

Almost any substance taken in excess has the potential to induce alterations in the user's eyes. Depending on the type of drug used, different chemicals impact the parasympathetic, sympathetic, or both systems.

Unsteady Walking

Drug overdose can cause unsteady walking or injury to the legs, feet, joints, bones, muscles, blood vessels, and other soft tissues or the neurological system that governs the movements required for walking.

Chest Pain

Chest pain is conceivable and can be caused by injury to the heart or lungs. Shortness of breath is possible. Breathing might become quick, slow, deep, or shallow.

Difficulty Breathing

Opioids can cause respiratory difficulties due to their pharmacological effects, and an opioid overdose can result in mortality.

Blue Lips or Fingers

Lips and fingers turn blue when the body does not obtain enough oxygen. These are the warning indications of an overdose.

Nausea or Vomiting

It is possible to experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Vomiting blood or passing blood in bowel movements are also possible.

Vomiting

Vomiting is another common overdose symptom, particularly in the case of an alcohol overdose. If the person is alone during the overdose, this can be dangerous. Sometimes, a person will vomit, choke while sleeping, and never wake up.

Abnormally high body temperature

Abnormal blood pressure is inevitable during a drug overdose, which will make all parts of your body work abnormally, which can also lead to a severe headache.

Violent or aggressive behavior

With excessive drug intake, a person can act irrational and aggressive.

Reasons for Drug Overdose

A drug overdose can occur by accident or it can be intentional. These overdose experiences will be detailed below.

Accidental Overdose

An accidental overdose occurs when a person consumes the incorrect substance or combination of substances in the wrong amount or at the incorrect time without being aware that it may cause them damage. This could include persons who take a substance to achieve a certain desired effect (such as getting 'high' or reducing negative feelings) but are unaware of its strength or contents.3

Intentional Overdose

Intentional overdoses are considered a kind of self-harm. The figures are significant despite accounting for a small proportion of drug-related mortality. It's also a shockingly prevalent act among teenagers across the world.  

In most of these cases, the person is escalating their use of substances, which is the act of drug overdose for suicide. These attempts may include exceeding authorized amounts of a prescription or substance and combining various substances.4

What Drugs Do People Overdose On?

Drugs people may overdose on include:

  • Depressants: A depressant is any substance that affects the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioids are examples of such substances. When a medicine acts as a central nervous system depressant, it reduces blood pressure and body temperature while also slowing respiration and heart rate.
  • Opioids: Because of how they work, opioids are one of the most deadly medications for overdosing because of the drug's toxicity. Opioids are derived from poppy seeds (or synthesized from comparable substances) and interact with opioid receptors in the brain.
  • Alcohol: When you consume more alcohol than your body can adequately absorb, you have an alcohol overdose. Many people do not consider alcohol when discussing drug overdoses, yet it is possible to overdose on alcohol, which is regarded as a depressant.
  • Stimulants: A stimulant drug, such as ecstasy, speed, or cocaine, raises the heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure while also increasing breathing. This can potentially result in a deadly heart attack, seizure, or stroke.

Long-Term Effects of an Overdose

Long-term effects of an overdose include:

Liver Damage

A pill overdose can permanently damage your liver, causing irreversible scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis) and, in severe circumstances, leading to life-threatening liver failure.

Brain Damage

The frontal lobe is particularly vulnerable to injury from overdose-induced oxygen deprivation, which can impair executive function. They may struggle with planning, problem-solving, emotional control, organizing, and paying attention.

Damage to the Heart

Irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, and strokes can all be caused by drug misuse. Rising heart rate and blood pressure. Some medicines can also slow blood flow to the heart, which can cause the muscles and body to stop working.

Neurological Consequences

The risk of pharmaceutical overdose is quite real and should not be underestimated. When a person becomes reliant on medicine, they may begin using ever-greater doses of the medication to obtain the same results. This can lead to an overdose and neurological consequences.

Higher Risk of Developing Emotional and Mental Problems

When people are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they develop substance-induced problems. Which can affect their mental and emotional state of mind.

Higher Risk of Drug Addiction

Taking an overdose drug can lead to drug addiction.

Drug Overdose

Risk Factors for Drug Overdose

Risk factors for drug overdose include:

  • Improper storage of drugs: If medications are not properly maintained, they may not operate as intended. Light, humidity, and severe temperatures can degrade prescription and nonprescription medicines, rendering them ineffective and hazardous if taken.
  • Not knowing or following dosage instructions: Not following the instruction as prescribed by the doctor can result in an overdose of prescription drugs; this falls under the category of the accidental reason for drug overdose
  • History of misuse or addiction: Drug addiction is more prevalent in some families and is most likely caused by a hereditary predisposition.
  • History of mental disorders: Substance abuse problems are more common in those with specific mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety-related issues, and this makes them continue the act.

How to Prevent or Avoid an Overdose

Ways to prevent or avoid an overdose include:

  • Practicing medicine safety: Do a plan of medicine administration and also check the expiration date before taking drugs.
  • Avoiding drugs of any kind except advised by a doctor: Only use medicines that are prescribed by a doctor to avoid drug abuse. 
  • Do not keep medications you no longer need: Dispose of all expired medicine to avoid it being taken by mistake. 
  • Keep all medicines and drugs in a secure place: Keep all medicines in a safe and cool environment to avoid sun exposure.
  • Be careful when taking different substances at the same time: When taking different substances, you need to be careful. Read through the instructions to know the side effects of the drug and the possible interactions if taken with another drug.

Get Help For Drug Overdose at San Diego Detox

After an overdose, the victim should get medical detox and therapy in a safe and supportive environment. Individualized counseling, group sessions, and other treatment options are available to assist individuals in understanding and learning from their overdose or addiction. If you are battling addiction and are thinking about detox or rehab, San Diego Detox is the best option.

Learn More About San Diego Detox

Our team is standing by to discuss your situation and options. Your call is fully confidential, and no obligation is required.