An opioid overdose is a medical emergency. If you think someone has overdosed, call 911.
What causes an opioid overdose?
- Taking an opioid to get high
- Taking an extra dose of a prescription opioid or taking it too often either accidentally or on purpose
- Mixing an opioid with other medicines, illegal drugs, or alcohol
- Taking an opioid that was prescribed for someone else
Who is at greatest risk for an opioid overdose?
- People who take illegal opioids.
- People who take more opioid medicine than prescribed.
- People who combine opioids with other medicines and/or alcohol.
- People who have asthma, sleep apnea, or reduced kidney or liver function.
What are the signs of an opioid overdose?
- Body feels clammy to the touch
- Extremely pale face
- Extremely small pinpoint pupils
- Gurgling noises
- Limp body
- Purple or blue colored fingernails or lips
- Slow or stopped breathing or heartbeat
- Unable to be awakened
- Unable to speak
What are the steps to take to respond to an opioid overdose?
- Call 911: Tell the operator if the person experiencing the overdose has stopped or slowed breathing.
- Give naloxone
- Remove any objects from the mouth of the person experiencing the overdose.
- Start rescue breathing: tilt head back, lift chin, pinch nose with other hand, give one breath every five seconds. Continue this for 30 seconds.
- Give naloxone again after 2-3 minutes if there is still no response. More than one dose is sometimes needed.
- Lay person on side: Lay the person on their side to prevent choking. Keep the person awake and breathing.
- Stay until help arrives: Stay with the person experiencing the overdose until emergency workers arrive.
Reverse an opioid overdose with naloxone
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. It can be given as an injection or as a nasal spray to block the effects of the opioid on the body. No prescription is required.