Drug Overdoses

When someone overdoses, speed is the most important factor, even more so than the substance that was overdosed on. This is because the longer someone goes without treatment, the more the drug is absorbed, and the more damage is done. People can die from drug overdoses.


When someone has OD’d they may be…




Fainting, dizzy, uncoordinated, or drowsy

Slow or rapid pulse


Acting strangely, drunk, psychotic, overly friendly etc

Have difficulty breathing

Slurred speech

High or low temperature

Enlarged or extra small pupils

Reddish face and heavy sweating

Delusions or hallucinations


Contact the poison control center and 911 immediately

If the victim is unconscious check vital signs. If you need to, begin EAR (pulse present) or CPR (no pulse).

If the person is unconscious check the airways and clear them out (remove any pills, vomit, etc)

Once the unconscious person is ‘stable’ place them in the recovery position (lying on their side) and wait for help to arrive while keeping a close eye on them.

If you find pills, syringes, medications, bottles & containers (from medications or drugs) or drugs around the person save them and give them to the medics when they arrive. If available save a sample of the vomit as well.

If the person is conscious ask them what happened and most importantly keep them as awake and alert as possible.

DO NOT try to induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a medical professional. The poison control center will tell you what to give and how much to give based on the persons age/weight and other stats.

DO NOT give the person anything to eat or drink unless instructed

DO NOT leave the person alone

Try to figure out the time when the drug was taken and what quantity was taken.

Drugs and Symptoms Chart

Below is a list of substances and the symptoms that overdosing on them will bring about.



Signs and symptoms of over dosage


Tylenol®; Parafon forte®.

Nausea; vomiting; pallor; sweating; kidney failure; jaundice; difficulty breathing; delirium; and unconsciousness.


Beers; wines; spirits.

Changes of mood; lack of coordination; slurred speech; sweating; rapid pulse; vomiting; drowsiness; and unconsciousness.


Benzedrine®; Dexedrine®; Methedrine®.

Excitement; dilated pupils; talkativeness; insomnia; tremors; exaggerated reflexes; bad breath; vomiting; diarrhea; fever; irregular, rapid heart rate; hallucinations; delirium; convulsions; and unconsciousness.


Dicumarol®; Coumadin®; Panwarfarin®:

Nosebleeds; pallor; bleeding gums; bruising; blood in the urine and feces; shock; and coma.


(1) tricyclic compoundsóTofranil®; Elavil®.

(2) MAO inhibitorsóNardil®; Parnate®.

(1) Dry mouth; dilated pupils; vomiting; irregular heart rate; retention of urine; hallucinations; lack of coordination; exaggerated reflexes; agitation; convulsions; unconsciousness; and hypertension. (2) Agitation; hallucinations; exaggerated reflexes; irregular heart rate; sweating; retention of urine; convulsions; and muscular rigidity.


Tripelennamine; diphenhydramine; chlorpheniramine, promethazine.

Excitement or depression; drowsiness; headache; irregular heart rate; nervousness; disorientation; lack of coordination; high fever; hallucinations; fixed, dilated pupils; delirium; convulsions; and coma.


Hyoscyamine; scopolamine; stramamine.

Dry mouth; hot, dry skin; flushing; high fever; dilated pupils; irregular heart rate; excitement; confusion; convulsions; delirium; and unconsciousness.


Amytal®; Nembutal®; Seconal®; phenobarbital.

Drowsiness; headache; confusion; lack of coordination; slurred speech; lack of reflexes; slow breathing rate; and coma.


Librium®; Valium®; Mogadon®; Xanax®.

Drowsiness; dizziness; lack of coordination; and, in rare cases, coma.


Coffee; tea; No-Doz®; APC.

Restlessness; excitement; frequent urination; rapid pulse; nausea; vomiting; fever; tremors; delirium; convulsions; and coma.


Hashish; marijuana.

Overdose usually causes only sleepiness.

Chloral hydrate

Noctec®; Somnos®.

An overdose of chloral hydrate produces symptoms similar to a barbiturate overdose, but chloral hydrate may also cause vomiting.


Cocaine; crack.

Stimulation followed by depression; nausea; vomiting; anxiety; hallucinations; sweating; difficulty breathing; convulsions; cardiovascular collapse; severe hypertension.

Contraceptive pill

Overdose may cause nausea and vomiting. It does not usually require emergency medical aid, but it is advisable to consult a physician.


Lanoxin®; Crystodigin®; Purodigin®.

Vomiting; excessive salivation; diarrhea; drowsiness; confusion; irregular heart rate; delirium; hallucinations; and unconsciousness.


Hygroton®; Lasix®; Dyazide®.

Massive urine output and irregular heart rate. Rarely there may also be skin rashes and abnormal sensitivity to light.



Drowsiness; lack of reflexes; pupil dilation; slow breathing rate; and coma.


LSD; psilocybin; mescaline; phencyclidine (PCP).

The symptoms of an overdose are not always readily distinguishable from the normal effects of these drugs, which vary betweeen individuals. The effects include hallucinations; nausea; confusion; and lack of coordination. In some cases, especially with PCP, there may be paranoia; delusions; extreme anxiety; aggressive and violent behavior; depression; seizures; coma; cerebral hemmorrhage; and even death.


Ipecac syrup.

Nausea; vomiting, sometimes bloodstained; diarrhea; abdominal cramps; irregular heart rate; and cardiac arrest.


Iron supplement tablets and syrup.

Nausea; vomiting, sometimes bloodstained; abdominal pain; pallor; headache; confusion; convulsions; and unconsciousness.


Opium; heroin; morphine; Methadone®; codeine.

Pinpoint pupils; drowsiness; shallow breathing; muscular relaxation; coma; slow pulse and respiratory arrest.


Chlorpromazine; prochlorperazine; trifluoperazine.

Sleepiness; dry mouth; lack of coordination; muscular rigidity; tremors; uncontrollable facial grimacing; low body temperature; irregular heart rate; convulsions; and coma.


Antimalarial drugs.

Vomiting; deafness; blurred vision; dilated pupils; headache; dizziness; rapid breathing; irregular heart rate; and unconsciousness.

Rauwolfia alkaloids


Flushing; dry mouth; abdominal cramps; diarrhea; irregular heart rate; tremors; muscular rigidity; and unconsciousness.


Aspirin and many aspirin-containing painkillers.

Abdominal pain; nausea; vomiting; restlessness; noises in the ears; deafness; deep, rapid breathing; fever; sweating; irritability; confusion; delirium; convulsions; and coma.

*** Before administering any first aid to anyone outside your family, be aware of your rights and responsibilities: The Good Samaritan Law. ***