The Ultimate Cheat Sheet #1 for Treating Common Drug Overdoses Quickly | Harbor Village - Harbor Village

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet #1 for Treating Common Drug Overdoses Quickly

Treating Drug Overdose Is a Race Against Time

Drug overdoses can be fatal- and they often are.

In 2014 47,055 Americans died from drug overdose. Accidental overdose is now the number one cause of death in America; from 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people have died from drug overdoses.

Half a million, gone- from a condition that is entirely treatable.

Of course, the best way to prevent overdose is: abstinence. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, and we never will. There will always be a degree of substance use- and overdose happens. Literally. We must focus more on treating overdoses than arguing about why they happen. Prevention measures are key to preventing overdose, but we must not relent in arming ourselves with the skills necessary to save the lives of those around us.

Non-Paramedics like you and me- (well, maybe you are a paramedic)- are instrumental in buying an overdose victim as much time as possible before first responders arrive. Just as knowing CPR can save someone from death, knowing the basics of overdose treatment can do the same. Opiate overdoses are most common; thankfully, the advent of Narcan (naloxone) reverses opiate overdose long enough for victims to get treatment for the lingering effects of the incident.

Unfortunately, not all types of overdoses are treatable with Narcan, which is specifically used for opiates- and to some degree, other substances compromising the respiratory system. Meaning heroin overdoses can be treated with Narcan, along with any opiate based prescription medication. Narcan is now an available prescription to anyone, and may be purchased at multiple Walgreen’s and CVS locations. Throughout 2016 both pharmacies are making the medication readily available.

The pinnacle factor of properly rendering aid to overdose victims is knowing what they’ve overdosed on.

The goal of overdose treatment for laypersons is to buy victims enough time to be tended to by medical professionals. Overdoses may cause brain damage, and must be reported to proper medical personnel for complete wellness and safety.


Here are the signs, symptoms, and treatments for the following overdoses we’ll cover in our Ultimate Cheat Sheet #1 for Treating Drug Overdoses series!


The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Drug Overdoses #1

I Flakka Overdose Treatment

II Ritalin Overdose Treatment

III Adderall Overdose Treatment

IV Barbiturate Overdose Treatment

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Drug Overdoses #2 (Coming Soon!)

Treatment for Morphine Overdose

Heroin Overdose

Amphetamine Overdose Treatment

Xanax Overdose Treatment


The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Drug Overdoses 3 (Coming Soon!)

Oxycontin Overdose Treatment

Klonopin Overdose Treatment

Ketamine Overdose Treatment

Click over to your topic of interest!

I. Quick Flakka Overdose Treatment

Signs of Flakka Overdose:

  • Excited Delirium
  • Erratic Behavior
  • Convulsions
  • Seizure
  • Extreme Paranoia
  • Suicidal/Homicidal

Potential Dangers to YOU:

Familiarity with the symptoms of flakka use and overdose is quintessential in rendering helpful aid, protecting yourself from sometimes violent flakka users. Flakka induces states of “excited delirium,” in which victims of use and overdose see things which are not there, suffer from acute paranoia, and often become violent, agitated, and a danger to themselves and those around them.

Broward County law officials state in many causes flakka users come directly to them for help and treatment; stating many of the flakka population are “not violent or unmanageable.” Use your best judgement when deciding to render aid directly or not. Should your loved one suffer a flakka overdose, be aware they may not recognize you or have and may not recognize their surroundings.

What to do:

  1. Call 911 for help immediately.
  2. Observe from a distance and report your findings to dispatch.
  3. Continue to keep your distance at any sign of agitation or violence
  4. Do not approach unless absolutely necessary.
  5. Should the victim fall unconscious and stop breathing, perform CPR until EMTs arrive.

Who to call: 911

How to keep yourself calm:

You may be understandably distressed and feel compelled to make direct contact head-on to offer your help- but this may be detrimental to both your safety, and the safety of the victim. Although not all flakka users are violent, as noted by the Broward Police Department, flakka users are easily agitated. Keeping your distance will often be the best route- your observations will save lives. Becoming a victim complicates recovery for flakka overdose victims.

Practice deep breathing and stay in control of the moment. Push your emotions aside for contemplation after the event, and focus on giving an accurate account of events in the moments of emergency. Stay in the area until help arrives- and then you can let it all out. Focusing on the wellbeing of the person you are trying to help will get you through the emotional tides of the ordeal.

Medical Flakka Overdose Treatment Performed by EMTs and Paramedics:

  • Administer of IV haldol and benadryl
  • Possible chemical sedation
  • Temperature monitoring and cooling
  • Glucose monitoring
  • Possible Administration of Bicarb

What Is Flakka?

Flakka is an addictive synthetic drug widely available in Florida. The substance excites the central nervous system, frequently causes “overheating,” breaking down proteins in the body, and inducing manic paranoia, violence, and clothes shedding. (Flakka users get hot, really, really hot.)


II. How to Treat Ritalin Overdose Treatment for Dummies

Signs of Ritalin Overdose:

  • Abnormally High Body Temperature
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Unconsciousness

What to do:

  1. Call 911 and report everything you know- especially if the victims has used multiple substances with Ritalin.
  2. Turn overdose victim on their side in case of vomiting.
  3. Keep the overdose victim calm, remove any distractions or loud noises. Be reassuring, and try to keep them awake.
  4. Perform CPR should the victim stop breathing until EMTs arrive.

Who to call: 911

How to keep yourself calm:

Take deep breaths and focus on being reassuring to both the victim and yourself. Ritalin overdoses can be fatal, but chances of fatality decrease with the presence of a loving hand, and a resource who contacts medical professionals. Know your presence alone increases the chances of survival. Focus on keeping 911 dispatch up-to-date on all happenings with the victim and follow their instructions to the letter. Breathe and stay calm.

Medical Ritalin Overdose Treatment Performed by EMTs & Paramedics:

  • Emptying of the stomach.
  • Injecting a short-acting barbiturate.
  • Administer of oral-activated charcoal.
  • Stabilize respiratory system.

What Is Ritalin?

Typically used to treat ADHD. Ritalin increases the release of dopamine in the brain. Overdose and substance abuse are common, as the body develops a tolerance to Ritalin over time.


III. How to Administer Adderall Overdose Treatment

Signs of Adderall Overdose:

  • Tremors
  • Twitching
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Uncharacteristic High or Low Blood Pressure
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Diarrhea

What to do:

  1. Call 911 immediately and report all symptoms and any other substances used by the overdose victim. Follow their instructions without fail.
  2. Turn the overdose victim on their side in case of vomiting.
  3. Provide water in case of diarrhea to prevent dehydration.
  4. Keep the victim as calm as possible. Be cautious about using deep breathing, as the respiratory system may be taxed. Ask 911 dispatch how to properly soothe an adderall overdose victim.
  5. Administer CPR in the event victims stop breathing.
  6. Continue to render aid until paramedics arrive.

Who to call: 911

How to keep yourself calm:

Ground yourself in the moment, and do not allow your mind to wander to possible future outcomes. Commit yourself to listening to the 911 dispatcher’s instructions and keeping the overdose victim calm. Employ deep breathing, push your palms together, or massage your palm with your thumb.

Medical Adderall Overdose Treatment Administered by Paramedics:

  • Possible Treatment for:
    • Heart Attack
    • Stroke
    • Renal Failure
    • Severe Hyperthermia
  • Administer of anticonvulsants
  • Administer of crystalloid
  • Treatment for hallucinations
  • Monitoring of fluids
  • Observation

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is an amphetamine, and speeds up the central nervous system- unduly taxing every major organ in the body. Adderall is typically prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall can be toxic at low doses- and is the source of hundreds of overdoses.


IV. Barbiturate Overdose Treatment

Signs of Barbiturate Overdose:

  • Coma
  • Lack of Coordination
  • Slowed Breathing
  • Staggering
  • Memory Loss
  • Unresponsiveness

What to do:

  1. Call 911 immediately and follow the dispatcher’s instructions.
  2. Monitor victim closely for respiratory failure. In the event the overdose victim stops breathing perform CPR until paramedics arrive.
  3. In cases where the barbiturate overdose victim does not stop breathing, keep victim alert; talk to them and be reassuring.
  4. Advise them not to talk back, as this may strain their ability to breathe.
  5. Ask them to keep eye contact, perhaps blinking for responses.
  6. Stay with victim until help arrives.

Who to call: 911

How to keep yourself calm:

Focus on keeping the overdose victim active and awake. Barbiturates are extreme central nervous system depressants. Respiratory failure is common. Focus on helping to to promote breathing by asking the 911 dispatch for safe information on rendering aid until medical professionals arrive.

Medical Barbiturate Overdose Treatment:

  • Treat Respiratory Failure
  • Administer Naloxone
  • Check for Hypothermia
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Administer Norepinephrine

Resources for Addiction Treatment

Psychostimulant Addiction Treatment

Prescription Addiction Treatment

Prescription Addiction Treatment

Ready to get help?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Find a Center

Learn more about your options and find the perfect treatment center in your area.
Find a center now
The best centers in your area

Request a Call

Do you want us to call you?
Leave your name and phone number and we'll call you within 2 hours.