What to Do in Case of a Prescription Drug Overdose

A 2006 study by the United States National Center for Health Statistics reported that drug overdoses may have accounted for, or at least contributed to, over 31,000 deaths that year. Research suggests that prescription drugs are perhaps the main factor contributing to such statistics. Sadly, drug overdoses do not just result from reckless, recreational use. Patients who begin taking a drug for legitimate reasons can develop tolerance to the drug followed by dependence. Once this occurs, the risk of addiction and, in turn, overdose becomes much higher.

Typical Symptoms of Prescription Drug Overdose

The symptoms and signs of prescription drug overdose can vary depending on the drug. In general, however, there are symptoms that point to a probable overdose. If you see any of these signs, whether in yourself or a loved one, you should seek emergency medical help.

  • Increase in body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate.
  • Confusion, sleepiness, dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Diarrhea, nausea
  • Blood in stool and vomit

Prescription Drug Overdose Treatment

Knowledge of what to do in case of a prescription drug overdose can be life saving. First – after calling 911 – if you suspect someone has overdosed on a prescription drug, try to keep the person still. Moving around can cause the drugs to enter the blood stream even faster. If the person has become unresponsive or appears unconscious, lay them on their side to prevent them from choking should they vomit. Once emergency medical staff takes over, the following are examples of several treatments that are usually used to treat overdoses:

  • The stomach is often pumped in an attempt to wash out any unabsorbed drugs
  • Charcoal is often used to keep drugs from entering the blood stream
  • Some patients will be given a sedative or placed in physical restraints of some kind, as overdose can cause patients to become agitated or violent and harm themselves or others

Get Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with prescription drug addiction, the risk of overdose is real. Fortunately, help is available. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, and counselors are waiting to talk with you about addiction and recovery options. Call now and make the change.