Signs of overdose & what to do


Overdose risk


There’s a greater risk of overdose if you:

  • mix drugs
  • take drugs alone
  • take drugs after a break
  • take higher purity drugs
  • inject drugs

How to deal with an overdose


When someone overdoses it is important to get them help as soon as possible.

Phone 999 right away. Ambulance paramedics have the tools to respond safely.

Where personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t available and you think there may be a risk of infection, the Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) advises helpers to place a cloth or towel over the victim’s mouth and nose.

Until the ambulance or advanced care team arrives, do compression only CPR and early defibrillation.

Phone 999 or go to A&E if:


You or someone else has taken drugs and has symptoms like:

  • unconsciousness
  • seizures or fitting
  • rapid heart beat
  • low/undetectable heart rate
  • chest pains
  • difficulty breathing (snoring or rasping)
  • blue/pale tingling of knees, hands and lips
  • severe nausea and vomiting
  • hyperthermia (overheating)


Information retrieved from – Drugs: what you need to know | NHS inform

Always carry naloxone


Naloxone should be given to anyone who is non-responsive and displaying the signs of an overdose.

Naloxone is a medicine that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Even if it doesn’t help, it will do no harm.

If you use opioid drugs, always ensure you have a Naloxone kit to hand.  The Shetland Recovery Hub & Community Network offer free Naloxone and training.  Tel: 01595 744402, Email: [email protected]

Naloxone can also be delivered to your home through the charity Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs.

Naloxone is very easy to administer. You can learn more about administering naloxone in a free e-learning module created by the Scottish Drug Forum.


For more information on ow to respond to an overdose visit