An opioid overdose is a medical emergency. If you think someone has overdosed, call 911.
An opioid overdose takes place when levels of opioids are too high in a person’s system, causing them to lose consciousness and stop breathing. An overdose can happen suddenly or come on slowly over the course of a few hours. Without oxygen, the result can be fatal.
What causes an opioid overdose?
- Using opioids after taking a break from opioids
- Using opioids bought on the street
- Taking an extra dose of a prescription opioid or taking it too often either accidentally or on purpose
- 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 a chronic illness that weakens the heart or makes it harder to breathe.
- People who have overdosed before.
What are the signs of an opioid overdose?
- Discolored lips or fingernails
- Pale, ashy, cool skin
- Slow or no breathing
- Unable to be awakened
What are the steps to take to respond to an opioid overdose?
- Call 911
- Give naloxone
- Perform rescue breaths
- Stay until help arrives
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.