*from the Harm Reduction Coalition
What is an Overdose?
Overdose (OD) happens when a toxic amount of a drug, or combination of drugs overwhelms the body. Heroin and other downers affect the body's central nervous system, which slows breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate, and in turn reduces body temperature. In an opiate overdose, the breathing slows to the point of respiratory arrest where the lack of oxygen to the brain leads to the loss of consciousness, coma, or death. In a stimulant overdose drugs like speed, cocaine, and ecstasy raise the heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, and speed up breathing. This can lead to a seizure, stroke, heart attack or death.
Anyone who uses drugs can overdose, from the first-time user to the veteran. But overdoses don't have to be fatal!
The highest risk for overdose come when:
-Drugs are mixed (poly-substance use)
-Drugs taken together can interact in ways that increase their overall effect. Using drugs that have the same effects on the body can be deadly. Such combinations include cocaine with other stimulants like speed and ecstasy, or using alcohol with heroin and other downers. Many overdoses occur when people mix heroin and/or alcohol with benzodiazepines such as Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. Most fatal overdoses are the result of poly-drug use.
If someone is overdosing their symptoms may look like this...