Overdose Warning Signs & Symptoms

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Learn How to Notice the Overdose Warning Signs & Symptoms Before It’s Too Late

Every year, more and more people die from drug overdose. In just a decade, there was a 2-fold increase in the overdose numbers for the United States. In 2017, over 72,000 people fatally overdosed on prescription opioids and illicit drugs. Overdose warning signs are the last noticeable indication that a person is headed for a potentially fatal condition.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the addiction and overdose signs for several popular drugs, as well as how long it would take to break a physical dependence to each. If you notice the signs of overdose, then it’s important to seek immediate emergency care.

heroin overdose signsHeroin

Heroin is in the opioid class of drugs. In the brain, the drug is broken back down into morphine, which then binds to opioid receptors, resulting in a lowered pain response and due to the dopamine increase, it also causes euphoria, especially when taken in higher amounts.

 Heroin Addiction Signs

  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Secretive behavior and lying
  • Track marks where heroin is being injected
  • Erratic behavior, including depression, aggression and being withdrawn from others
  • Cravings
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Tolerance

Heroin Overdose Warning Signs

  • Breathing becomes depressed
  • Pulse becomes weak
  • A bluing of the lips and nails
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Extreme drowsiness

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

The first phase of heroin withdrawal starts at day 1 and ends after about day 3, in which milder symptoms are experienced. Between day 3 and 5, symptoms begin to peak and then start to dissipate. The total time required to detox from heroin is roughly 5 to 7 days depending on each individual and the use of withdrawal medication.

cocaine overdose signsCocaine

Cocaine and crack cocaine are powerful stimulants that can be devastating when abused. But how much cocaine does it take to overdose? The amount that is it takes to overdose on cocaine can vary depending on what it was mixed with, how tolerant the person is to the drug, and other prior medical conditions. So, how much cocaine does it take to overdose on average? Generally speaking, the lowest amount that is considered fatal is 1.2 grams; however, since cocaine can affect people different, some may have an overdose on just 30 mg.

Cocaine Addiction Signs

  • Weight loss
  • Constantly runny nose
  • Nosebleeds
  • Financial difficulties
  • Isolation from others
  • Unexplained mood swings
  • A white powdery residue around the nose and sometimes mouth
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings
  • Tolerance

Cocaine Overdose Warning Signs

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • An increase in body temperature
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Severe anxiety
  • Stroke

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Since the body expels cocaine fairly quickly, the first symptoms are expected to show after around 2 to 3 hours. From day 1 to 7, the symptoms hit their peak including intense cravings that can lead to relapse. After roughly 10 days, most symptoms start to fade; however, cocaine is a drug that can cause post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which causes some psychological symptoms to persist for months, if untreated.

alcohol overdose signsAlcohol

Even though alcohol is a legal drug, it is the most dangerous one there is. It is behind the deaths of around 6 people in the United States on a daily basis. The excessive use of alcohol not only causes an addiction and dependence, but it can lead to an overdose and death unless immediate care is found.

Alcohol Addiction Signs

  • Often drinking alone or in secret
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings
  • Tolerance
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Alcohol becomes more important that other responsibilities
  • Legal problems such as DUI
  • Relationship problems
  • Problems created by alcohol abuse doesn’t stop its abuse

Alcohol Poisoning or Overdose Warning Signs

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Breathing becomes slowed, irregular and may stop entirely
  • Hypothermia, which results in cold, clammy skin
  • Slowed heart rate

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

The first signs of withdrawal from alcohol start as early as 6 to 12 hours from caseation. From 12 to 48 hours, general symptoms are expected to appear and increase in severity. The most dangerous symptoms including delirium tremens appear after about 48 to 72 hours. If untreated, delirium tremens can cause death. After roughly 7 days of detox, a person is expected to feel much better as their symptoms fade.

opiates overdose signsOpioid-Based Prescription Pain Relievers

While these medications are the best at what they do – treating moderate to severe pain – they are also highly addictive, just like heroin is. Through an interaction with opioid receptors in the brain, opioid pain relievers block pain and flood the brain with feel-good chemicals such as dopamine. The result is a highly-addictive substance that can ultimately cause a fatal overdose.

Opioid Prescription Pain Reliever Addiction Signs

  • Intense cravings
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Tolerance
  • Going to several physicians to obtain more prescriptions or turning to online and illegal sources
  • Inability to slow or stop its use
  • Use continues despite several social and legal problems
  • Unexplained mood swings
  • Hiding empty pill bottles or pill use from others

Signs of a Pill Overdose

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Severely depressed breathing that causes breathing to be drastically slowed or even stop entirely, which is one of the major signs of a pill overdose
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Bluing of the lips and fingertips
  • Drowsiness
  • Clammy and cold skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation

Opioid Prescription Pain Reliever Withdrawal Timeline

When stopping the misuse of opioid pain relievers, the first symptoms of withdrawal start after roughly 6 to 12 hours depending on the drug’s half-life. Long-acting opioids may take 30 hours before showing signs of withdrawal. The peak of the symptoms occurs at the 72 hour mark and the entire process is expected to be concluded after roughly 5 to 7 days.

Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Deciding to stop the abuse of drugs doesn’t mean that you have to face the many withdrawal symptoms and dangers of stopping cold turkey alone. In fact, there are medical detox programs available that can make the entire process of recovery much easier – from detox to long-term relapse prevention. Choose to get treatment today through the many professional rehabs on Better Addiction Care to prevent substance abuse turning into substance overdose.

A medical detox can offer patients medications that can allow a user to taper off a drug at a safer, more comfortable pace. Not only does this greatly reduce symptoms of withdrawal, but it helps to prevent relapse. Afterwards, the addict should take part in the treatment programs that aim to treat each individual’s cause of substance abuse. Through therapy and a relapse prevention plan, long-term sobriety can be achieved.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction