Menu Close

6 Symptoms of Heroin Overdose

distressed person experiencing symptoms of heroin overdose

While synthetic opioids like fentanyl get a great deal of press due to their high potential for abuse and overdose, opioids like heroin still pose a significant risk. If you or a person you care about is taking heroin, seek out help as soon as possible. Knowing the symptoms of a heroin overdose is a great place to start, but seeking formal heroin addiction treatment is likely also necessary for anyone using this powerful drug.

For effective heroin recovery care in Washington state, call 888.483.6031 or reach out online. The knowledgeable team at Northpoint Seattle is available to help you determine the best treatment plan to foster long-term recovery. 

What Are the Signs of Heroin Overdose? 

Heroin overdose can be fatal if not dealt with quickly and effectively. This is because opiates like heroin are potent nervous system depressants, meaning they can slow down breathing and heart rate to a lethal degree. People who die due to heroin overdose generally do so because of suffocation. Making the drug even more dangerous, its illegal status means that most people abusing it acquire it on the street, where it may be mixed with other unspecified substances. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for fentanyl to be mixed with heroin sold on the street. This makes it more potent but also significantly more deadly. 

The following are six of the most prominent heroin overdose symptoms:

  1. Pulse rate and breathing become very slow and shallow, meaning the person OD’ing isn’t getting enough oxygen to their heart and brain.
  2. Pupils contract substantially, taking on an appearance often compared to “pinpoints.”
  3. The person OD’ing starts choking, gurgling, or vomiting.
  4. Skin color transitions from an everyday shade to a bluish one, becoming cold and clammy.
  5. Normal muscle tone disappears, and the person OD’ing becomes physically limp. 

Other heroin overdose signs include extreme drowsiness and unconsciousness. The person overdosing may be impossible to wake up. 

What Can I Do To Help If I’m With Someone Who Is Having Heroin Overdose Symptoms?

The very best thing you can do if you’re with someone OD’ing on heroin or another drug is to call 911 immediately. While drug users or those spending time in their company sometimes worry that they’ll be prosecuted for calling in an overdose, this usually isn’t the case. Most municipalities have “Good Samaritan laws” that protect people who seek help for people overdosing. Moreover, while there are some measures you can take on your own to help people having an overdose, an emergency team’s timely arrival can often mean the difference between life and death. They can perform vital services like assisted breathing and provide anti-overdose drugs. 

One such game-changing drug in the fight against opioids is naloxone, often known by the brand name Narcan, which is usually also available to people without formal medical training. It’s easy to administer and comes in both injection and nasal spray forms. This medicine is one of the most effective opioid overdose reversal drugs currently in existence. It works by filling up the brain receptors overwhelmed by opioids, thus stopping the drug’s flooding effect. For people taking opioids or spending time with those who do, learning to use naloxone is essential since it is a powerful first line of defense in the face of overdose. 

Contact Northpoint Seattle to Learn More About Heroin Overdose Signs and Get Help with Addiction Recovery

Heroin abuse should always be treated seriously, but for those struggling, it’s similarly vital to keep in mind that lasting change is possible. Many people have recovered from what could have been deadly heroin addiction thanks to timely intervention followed by ongoing support.

Overdoses continue to claim far too many lives each year, so seek help right away if you or a loved one is struggling. Call 888.483.6031 or message online to get help from the caring team at Northpoint Seattle today.