Responding to an Opiate Overdose?

Any of the following symptoms occurring with heroin use (or other opioid) often in combination of other drugs or alcohol:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Turning blue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unable to be roused

Recognising Overdose: Signs of Unconsciousness

  • Unrousable/unwakeable
  • Snoring / Rasping breathing – ‘death rattle’
  • Very slow and ultimately no breathing
  • Turning blue/grey – around lips and fingers first (cyanosis)
  • Cold to touch/clammy
  • Pale
  • Very small pupils
  • Loose muscles – floppy
Do not respond to an overdose by bathing in cold water

Things Not To Do

Inappropriate responses to overdose:

  • Inflicting indiscriminate pain
  • Putting people in a bath of cold water
  • Walking people around
  • Injecting salt
  • Injecting amphetamines
  • Rectal insertion of ice cream

Things To Do

  • Approach with care
  • Are there any hazards to you or the casualty?
  • Check for danger and be careful with needles that might be around
  • Try to wake person, call name, sterum rub, pinch ears, bed of finger nail…
  • If unresponsive – CALL AN AMBULANCE
If unresponsive, call an ambulance!

Click here for information on
Ambulance Breathing ReCovery