What is the Nature of a Drug Overdose?

A drug overdose means taking too much of a substance, over-the-counter, prescription, or other drug and taking more than the dosage recommended. When there is enough of the drug in a person’s body, it can have harmful effects on the body. An overdose may lead to serious medical complications, including death. The severity of the overdose depends on the drug, amount taken, and physical and medical history of the person who overdosed.

Risk Factors

There are several factors to consider when looking at a potential drug overdose. This includes:

  • Improperly storing a drug where it can be easily accessed. Children are curious and may put it in their mouths. This may lead to an accidental overdose
  • Not knowing or following dosage instructions. Adults can overdose if they don’t follow directions. Accidentally taking too much or taking doses sooner than directed can easily lead to an overdose of a drug that is otherwise safe for other people to take
  • History of misuse or addiction can lead to overdose. Addiction puts people into the higher risk category because they may mix drugs, use multiple drugs, or have such a high tolerance, they don’t recognize the effect the drug is having on them.


The symptoms of a drug overdose may vary depending on the person, drug, or amount taken. The universal symptoms include:

  • Aggression or violence
  • Trouble breathing
  • Agitation
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty walking
  • Tremors

It is important to seek medical help immediately if these symptoms are present. The most obvious way to tell if these symptoms indicate overdose is to know if you have taken drugs or seen someone else take drugs.

Seeking treatment for a drug overdose is important for people who are in crisis. It means knowing how much of the drug was ingested and seeking treatment from a healthcare provider or emergency personnel. Prevention of an overdose begins by seeking help for addiction. It also means keeping medications and drugs away from small children and others who may use them and not realize what or how much they are ingesting. The outcome for someone who overdoses depends on many factors but it is easy to die from it because people stop breathing. To increase the odds of surviving, it means finding treatment for addiction or substance use and seeking help for issues a person may be having that are keeping them from being successful in recovery.

The Palmetto Center is based on a Therapeutic Communty model. We help people learn how to live free of addiction. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.