Tell Tale Signs That Someone is Overdosing

and Isabella Escamilla

Pupils looking like pin pricks, slurred speech, and bluish fingertips and lips have one thing in common: they are among the signs that someone is overdosing on fentanyl. According to The National Harm Reduction Coalition website, “Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if someone is just very high, or experiencing an overdose” (

Globally, nearly 500,000 deaths have been caused because of drug use, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Approximately 115,000 died of an opioid overdose in 2017 (

Overdosing is a very serious matter that is becoming more common amongst teenagers and adults alike. This can happen when people purchase drugs not knowing what they may contain, usually sold by friends or online strangers. People can overdose on a multitude of substances, including alcohol, Tylenol, opioids, or a mixture of drugs, but more and more commonly, it is the drug fentanyl, laced in with other drugs, that is causing people to overdose (

According to the WHO, “An opioid overdose can lead to death due to the effects of overdose on the part of the brain which regulates breathing” ( Not only can a person overdose on drugs and pills that people obtain from “drug dealers,” over the counter medicine can be harmful as well. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, “Opioid overdose can also occur with prescription opioid pain relievers and medications used in SUD [substance use disorder] such as methadone and buprenorphine” (

While identifying a possible overdose, there are signs that a person can recognize such as loss of consciousness, being awake but unable to talk, the user’s face being very pale or clammy, limp body, fingernails and/ or lips having a purple/blue hue, vomiting or gurgling noises, and a slowing/complete halt of breathing or heartbeat (

Unfamiliar sounds while “sleeping” are yet another sign of overdose, making it important to try and wake people up if the occasion arises. Many families and friends throughout the world have thought that their loved ones were sleeping and simply snoring, only to find out otherwise. In many of these situations, this became a missed opportunity to save a life. While many have passed from overdosing, it is very rare for someone to die immediately on the spot, hence the importance of acting fast upon noticing any of the aforementioned signs (

In the case of an overdose, people should act the moment they believe something is wrong, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. Onlookers should evaluate for signs, call 911 for help, and administer naloxone. The next step would be to support the person’s breathing and check their airway by placing one hand on their chin, tilting their head back, pinching their nose, and lastly, performing CPR. They should also monitor the person’s response, as overdose symptoms can return when the Naloxone wears off (

If ever witnessing an overdose, act fast and call for emergency assistance. The Good Samaritan law provides protection for individuals who call for assistance or are under the influence in the event of a drug overdose. Always do the right thing and call for help if someone is in need, no matter the situation. Remember, one pill can kill.