Drug Overdose Treatment: FSA Eligibility
What is a drug overdose?
Drug overdoses occur when an individual takes an illegal substance, prescription medication or over-the-counter (OTC) medication in doses higher than the body can sustain or expel from the body before potentially life-threatening symptoms begin to take hold. Drug overdoses can occur by accidental or intentional means and the severity of the resulting symptoms is largely tied to the drug and the amount taken. However, most drug overdoses will result in myriad side effects, including convulsions, drowsiness, breathing difficulties, nausea and vomiting, staggering movements/speech, unconsciousness and even death in some cases if medical attention is not sought out.
How are drug overdoses treated?
Treatment for a drug overdose will vary greatly based on the drug ingested and in what quantities, but often one of the first steps is to pump the stomach to remove any unabsorbed drugs from the stomach to prevent the issue from accelerating any further. Activated charcoal may also be given to the patient, which is pumped into the digestive tract and binds with the drugs to prevent them from being absorbed into the bloodstream, which is later expelled through the stool.
In more advanced cases, patients may need to be intubated (place a tube into the airway) to restore breathing during the detoxification process, or to support the patient's impaired breathing. Additionally, vomiting may be induced to clear some of the drugs from the body, as well as intravenous fluids to flush material from the system. In some cases, those who have ingested harder drugs like opioids may require gradual reduction of the drug or drug replacement with substances like naxolone, methadone or buprenorphine (DrugAbuse.com).
After harmful substances are expelled from the system and the patient is out of immediate danger, follow-up appointments with the treating physician are necessary to ensure that no long-term damage has been done as a result of the overdose. In some cases, a psychiatric/mental health evaluation will be conducted in the case of an intentional overdose, or if an accidental overdose is a result of a long-term abuse of a specific drug, doctors may encourage the patient to enter a rehabilitation facility, join a support group or pursue other avenues to avoid continual drug abuse in the future. Luckily, with proper, timely treatment, individuals who experience drug overdoses can recover successfully without any lingering effects and often this experience is the wakeup call they need to make healthy changes for the future.