Death from Unnatural Causes: Drug Overdose

Illicit drug and prescription drug use is the primary cause of unintentional overdose death. This entry describes symptoms of drug overdose, epidemiology, risk factors, societal cost, and prevention strategies for drug overdose death. Recommendations on how family can help prevent overdose death are outlined as related to these areas.

Symptoms of Overdose

Swift recognition of overdose by family members of a victim is crucial in order to immediately contact medical personnel, especially because most overdoses occur in the home. Overdose can happen to anyone who uses drugs and occurs when an amount of a drug or combination of drugs overwhelms the body—brain, heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys. Symptoms that may indicate overdose from depressant drugs like opioids (such as heroin, synthetic opioid analgesics) and sedatives (such as ...

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