Drug or alcohol overdosing is taking more than a safe amount of the substance.
For information about Alcohol poisoning click here
You can overdose on both prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines as well as illegal drugs. For OTC and prescription medication you are always advised on how much you can take safely, for example it might say, “do not take more than 8 in 24 hours”; taking more than the prescribed amount can have unwanted and possibly dangerous effects.
For illegal drugs the risk is far greater as there is no set “safe amount” and above all you do not know how pure the drug is or what other substances it might contain. The purity and strength of street drugs can change from dealer to dealer and from one batch to another making it difficult to be sure what is a safe dose.
People who purposefully overdose could have an underlying mental health condition and it is important to seek medical help.
Heroin overdose can be fatal making it one of the most dangerous of street drugs. The variable between taking enough of the drug to achieve a pleasurable effect and taking too much so it causes an overdose is difficult to gauge and may be very small. Even those who have used heroin for years are at risk over an overdose, because no one can be sure of the purity of the substance you are taking. For more information see drug cocktails
Signs and symptoms of a drug overdose may include:
- Slow breathing
- Slow heart rate / pulse
- Blue lips
- No response if you shake the person