Facts about an Opioid Overdose

Opioid overdose is characterized by the decrease in breathing rate which can lead to death. Death usually occurs 1 to 3 hours after injection, rather than suddenly. Overdose is frequently witnessed by someone who does not recognize the danger or does not want to act on it. In many cases of overdose, opioids are mixed with alcohol or benzodiazepines. Overdose is most common among those who have been using for 5 to 10 years, rather than in the new user. Other risks include:

  • Resumption of use after a period of abstinence from opioid use, such as recent release from detoxification, drug treatment or correctional facility,
  • Use of opioids without others present raises the risk of death if an overdose occurs,
  • Mixing opioids with other drugs, particularly alcohol or the sedatives,
  • Injection, and
  • Serious medical problems such as advanced HIV infection and impaired liver function.

How do I recognize signs of an opioid overdose?

  • The person can't be woken up
  • Breathing is very slow or not existent
  • Lips or nails may seem blue

What should I do if I see an overdose?

  • Call 911 immediately!
  • Say "I think someone may have overdosed."
  • If the person isn't breathing, do rescue (mouth-to-mouth) breathing by pinching the nose and blowing into the mouth
  • Administer naloxone (Narcan) if you have it
  • Lay the person on their side once they have resumed breathing
  • Stay with the overdosed person until the ambulance arrives


Directions on How to use Naloxone for Opioid Overdose

911 Good Samaritan Law

Posters and materials that highlight the 911 Good Samaritan Law and instructions on how to respond to an overdose:

Palm Cards:

Order Forms

Stop Prescription Pain Medication Misuse

Wallet-sized, educational palm cards for pharmacies to share to customers who are prescribed opioids medication - order form included: