What is a drug overdose

If someone has accidentally or deliberately taken too much of a medication or an illicit drug, get expert advice immediately. Phone a poison control center, physician, or hospital emergency room, give what facts you can (kind and amount of drug, approximate time of taking, age and condition of patient), and follow instructions to the letter. Save the container with any remaining contents. Until medical help arrives, apply these emergency measures. Overdose by swallowing If the victim is not breathing or has no pulse and has swallowed a drug, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

If the victim is conscious and has swallowed a drug within the last 30 minutes, induce vomiting with a dose of ipecac syrup preceded and followed by ample fluids. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for ipecac to take effect; if no vomiting occurs, repeat the dose in 20 minutes. Never induce vomiting in someone who is unconscious or having convulsions. If your adviser has recommended a different method of inducing vomiting or has advised against it, do as instructed.

When vomiting begins, be sure the victim is bent over, facedown, so that the vomitus cannot enter his lungs. Afterward have the victim drink 2 to 4 teaspoons of powdered activated charcoal mixed in a glassful of water. (If charcoal is available only in capsules, open the capsules and measure out the powder inside.) If the drug was a tranquilizer or sleeping pill, keep the victim awake.

Overdose by injection

If the victim is not breathing, lacks pulse, and the drug was injected, administer CPR. If he is conscious, get the victim to an emergency medical facility immediately.

Sometimes a parent inadvertently administers a drug overdose to an infant by failing to measure medication accurately. To avoid such accidents, use a calibrated medicine dropper or syringe or a measuring spoon. Never increase the dosage unless the doctor so instructs. Don’t give a child two doses to make up for one missed earlier without first asking the doctor.