In the United States:

Call 911, if necessary

National Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222

Learn more about what you can do in case of:

What Should I Do In The Case of A Substance Overdose?

Someone you know may have overdosed on a substance like illegal drugs, prescription medication or any other controlled substance and may need emergency assistance. A substance overdose can cause widely varying conditions depending on the drug that was ingested. If the individual is suffering from any of these symptoms seek emergency help immediately:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain (blood in the stool or vomit can mean the situation is life threatening)
  • Skin is cool and sweaty or hot and dry to the touch
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular (rapid, slow, deep or shallow) breathing
  • High body temperature
  • High or low pulse rate
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Inability to awaken the person from sleep (coma)
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypothermia or low body temperature (skin will be pale and may have a bluish hue to it)
  • Nonreactive pupils
  • Uncontrollable Tremors

A drug overdose is a medical emergency, contact emergency medical assistance immediately by dialing 911. A drug overdose can result in organ damage, brain damage, coma, heart attack, organ failure, internal bleeding and sometimes death.

Here are a few things you can do while you wait for emergency medical assistance to arrive:

  • Make sure their airways are open and they can breathe easily.
  • Start CPR if necessary.
  • Roll them onto their side and into the recovery position.
  • Monitor their condition and vital signs.
  • Do not try to make them vomit.
  • Do not give them any food, drink or other medication.
  • Attempt to determine and collect the substance that they overdosed on and have it available for medical assistance to speed up the treatment process.
  • Follow instruction given by doctor or poison control.
  • Treat them for signs of shock, as necessary. Indications of shock include: weakness, paleness, clammy skin, bluish lips or fingernails and decreased alertness.
  • If they are having seizures attempt to give them convulsion first aid.
  • Do not jeopardize your own personal safety.

What Should I Do In The Case Of Alcohol Poisoning?

Someone you know may have overdosed on alcohol and may need emergency assistance. If they are suffering from any of these symptoms emergency help is needed immediately:

  • Hypothermia or low body temperature (skin will be pale and may have a bluish hue to it)
  • Slow breathing with less than eight breaths per minute
  • Irregular breathing with more than ten seconds between breaths
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting while asleep
  • Inability to awaken the person
  • Excessive sweating
  • Weak pulse
  • Loss of consciousness

Severe cases of alcohol poisoning can lead to coma, heart attack, brain damage and sometimes death.

While you wait for emergency assistance there are a few things you can do:

  • Keep them on their side or in a sitting position if at all possible. Make sure they don't roll on their back to reduce the possibility of choking.
  • Do not give them food, drink (except water) or medication. Doing so can complicate the steps the emergency assistance may need to take.
  • Stay with them and make sure they are retaining consciousness and are responsive.
  • Remain calm, tell them exactly what you are doing before you do it. Keep in mind they may be aggressive.
  • Never give them alcohol.
  • Never let someone try to 'sleep it off'.
  • Do not douse them with water.