If someone takes too much of a drug they may overdose and you will need to get them medical help as quickly as possible.
SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR
- Hyperthermia (overheating)
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate/chest pains
- Unexpected hallucinations
- Difficulty breathing
- Blue/pale tingeing of knees, hands and lips
Some drugs, such as MDMA, have serotonergic properties, meaning they affect the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Too much serotonin can cause serotonin syndrome which can be potentially life threatening.
Rigid, jerky, twitchy unusual movements, often involving the legs shaking; fully dilated pupils; overheating; shivering; racing heart; the person appearing agitated and confused. If in doubt, ring for an ambulance. It is important if they have rigid, jerky movements, not to hold people down because of the risk of muscle tissue breaking down (rhabdomyolysis). As with people who have been using volatile substances (solvents) it can also be risky to startle or frighten people as this can lead to heart failure [UK DrugWatch, Overdose and Emergencies Sheet, 2014].
- Keep calm
- Get help
- Call 999 (or 112)
- Give as much information as possible including location, age, gender, what has happened and what they have taken
- Stay with the casualty and reassure them
- Be honest with medical staff and hand over any packets or paraphernalia
- If unconscious put in the recovery position (or on their side)
- If they stop breathing perform CPR (chest compressions)
- If opiate related (e.g. casualty has taken heroin or is on a methadone prescription) administer Naloxone.
- Leave them alone
- Inflict excessive pain to wake them
- Give them stimulants or any other drug
- Give them anything to eat or drink (apart from small sips of water)
- Put them in a bath/shower
- Walk them about
- Attempt to restrain them
Some people can take too much of a drug and be okay physically but become worried, scared or anxious. It is important to take them seriously and remember that mental health can be an emergency too. Get help if needed.