What is Overdose?

What is Overdose?
Overdose, also commonly referred to as OD, is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when there is too much of something within a person’s body. Most often, overdoses occur when someone has consumed too much of a substance, such as alcohol, over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, or illicit substances like opioids or other drugs.

What are the symptoms of an overdose?
Depending on what the substance is that has been consumed, overdose can cause many different medical issues, including vomiting, severe stomach pain, chest pain, loss of balance or coordination, confusion, loss of consciousness, pale gray or blue skin color, and inability to breathe normally. Overdoses are life-threatening and should always be considered an emergency.

What can I do if someone I know is experiencing an overdose?
Time is critical when it comes to intervening during an overdose situation. If a person has stopped breathing, it only takes three to five minutes for brain damage to occur, and that can quickly be followed by death.  The first step is to always dial 911 and speak to emergency personnel.  They will likely ask you questions about the situation and provide further instructions on what you can do.

If you suspect a person has overdosed on opioids, like heroin, oxycontin, fentanyl, or morphine, Narcan can be used to reverse the effects of overdose. Narcan, the brand name for the drug Naloxone, is an opioid antidote that helps a person retain their ability to breathe until medical attention can be provided. Narcan can be administered through injection, IV or intranasally and generally lasts 30-90 minutes. Narcan generally doesn’t harm a person if they have not used opioids, but it is not effective at helping someone who has overdosed on non-opioids, like alcohol, cocaine, or other substances. Anyone can purchase Narcan Nasal Spray directly from their pharmacy without a prescription.

How common is overdose?
It’s difficult to know the true number of overdoses that happen each year, however, deaths from overdoses are well documented. In 2021, more than 100,000 people died from a drug overdose in the United States. More than 75% of these overdoses involved opioids. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, Wayspring may be able to help. Use our 5-question member eligibility tool to find out if you’re eligible to enroll in our no-cost services today!