Getting Help Had Too Much Overdose Information

Overdose Information

What An Overdose Looks Like Avoiding An Overdose How To Help

Overdose occurs when the level of intoxication from the drug reaches a point where it begins to produce physical and/or psychological harm.

There are a number of signs and symptoms that point out someone is in trouble. These differ with the type of drug used:

Stimulant Drug Overdose (e.g. Ecstasy, speed, cocaine, amphetamines)

  • Hyperactivity, sweating
  • Rapid breathing or a feeling that you ‘can’t breathe’
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Shaking / Trembling / spasms
  • Chest pain, pounding heart
  • Raised temperature
  • Body chills
  • Disorientation
  • Severe Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Paranoid, delusional, agitated, irritable, anxious or psychotic behaviour
  • Convulsions.

Depressant Drug Overdose (e.g. Heroin)

  • Shallow pulse and breathing
  • Blue lips, fingernails / toenails
  • Snoring or gurgling
  • No response
  • Constricted pupils
  • Disorientated
  • Unconsciousness.

It is not necessary for someone to have all of these signs or symptoms for them to be overdosing. Only a few could still mean they are in trouble and need emergency help.

The easiest way to avoid drug overdose is to not take drugs. But if you do choose to use, you run the risk of overdosing. This can even happen if the person has taken the drug before and had a positive experience. It is useful to think about ways to reduce the chances of overdose. So how can you reduce the risks?

  • Communicate with friends – if you are taking drugs it’s a good idea to let someone know what you are taking. If you tell someone you trust they will be in a better position to help if you become sick or unconscious.


  • Avoid polydrug use - this means mixing drugs or using more than one drug at the same time or on the same occasion. This is especially true if you don’t know what is in a drug or how strong it is and you mix it with another. Be aware that mixing over-the-counter or prescription drugs with each other or with illicit drugs or alcohol also increases your risk of overdose.


  • Consider trying a smaller amount of a drug – you cannot tell what is in a drug or how it might affect you without testing it. Not knowing what is in a drug or how strong it may be can lead to overdose. Even if someone else with you is having a good experience it does not necessarily mean it will have the same effect on you.


  • Look out for each other – this is always a good way to reduce the risk of overdose. If you stay with your friends there is a greater chance of being able to help each other in an emergency.


  • Take time out to rest, rehydrate and cool down - it’s important to drink water but not too much as this can also lead to problems. Dehydration and overheating can complicate an overdose. Similarly it’s important to be warm enough. If you don’t feel well and are cold put on another layer of clothing or go to a space that is warmer.
  • Know what to do in an emergency - If someone becomes unwell or collapses it is best to respond as if it is an emergency. It’s always safe to call an ambulance. You don’t have to worry about getting in trouble with the police as they will not be called unless there has been a death or if people are violent or aggressive.


  • If a person has overdosed and then appears to be better, it is important they do not use drugs again after being revived as they may overdose again.

Remember: Staying calm and calling an ambulance can save a life.

  • Stay with the person
  • Stay calm – DO NOT panic
  • Reduce light and noise
  • Move into a quiet space away from other people
  • Be polite and respectful
  • Reassure the person that they will be ok
  • Encourage the person to take deep breaths
  • Find out if they are unconscious by gently shaking them to see if they respond
  • Place the person in the recovery position and check the airway, breathing and pulse.
  • Check to see if the person’s airway is clear. If not, remove anything from their mouth and open the airway by tilting the head back and pulling the jaw down
  • Check breathing and feel for pulse.


  • Give the person anything to drink if they are unconscious
  • Inject them with water, speed etc. – This is a myth and wastes time and could put the person in shock
  • Place the person in a bath or shower – they may drown
  • Attempt CPR if you do not know what you’re doing
  • Leave the person alone until help arrives, even if they have appeared to have recovered. They may relapse into unconsciousness.

If their condition does not improve, call an ambulance immediately. Remember, police will not attend overdoses unless there is a death or ambulance staff are threatened.