An overdose refers to a physical reaction that occurs when a person takes an excessive amount of a substance, such as a drug or alcohol. During an overdose, the body has ingested drugs or alcohol to the point where functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and others are severely impacted. It may not always be easy to recognize the signs of a drug overdose, as this reaction may appear to be a drug high or alcohol intoxication. Overdoses can wreak havoc on the body, but it’s possible to survive it. But the real question is: how long does it take to recover from an overdose?
Overdoses can either be accidental or intentional by misuse. The most common causes of overdose include:
Accidental overdoses are common among young children or an adult with impaired mental abilities who swallowed a medication that was accessible to them. Young children may swallow drugs accidentally simply because they are curious.
Children younger than age 5 (particularly those aged 6 months to 3 years) tend to place everything they find in their mouths, so they are likely to get their hands on any medications that are in arm’s reach or left out on the counter.
What’s more, toddlers are more likely to share these medications with other children when they find them. For these reasons, it is important to store your prescription drugs safely so they are out of reach of those who should not be taking them.
Additionally, adults - especially seniors or people who take medications - may also mistakenly ingest the incorrect medication or take the wrong dose. They might also forget when they took their medication and take more of it or drink alcohol with the drug in their system.
On the other hand, intentional overdoses often occur when an individual is using drugs for recreational purposes or to get high. This is especially common among opioid users. An individual may also seek to end their life by overdosing on drugs on purpose.
The duration of overdose symptoms depends on numerous factors, including how quickly someone receives medical attention. For instance, when someone experiences an opioid overdose, a shot of Naloxone can temporarily block symptoms, giving the person enough time to seek medical attention. However, if the person does not get help right away and falls into a coma, symptoms can last longer and result in permanent problems.
Overdose recovery can be quick for some people but may take longer for others. Factors that may affect how long an overdose lasts include age, duration of drug use, the dose taken, and the drug in question. Some drugs are more potent than others, meaning they are more likely to cause overdose at smaller doses, such as opioids.
Additionally, the long-term effects of a drug overdose that are not always curable include:
Brain damage and injury are especially common, particularly in cases when the person has overdosed on depressants like opioids, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates. Cardiovascular problems caused by overdose are more common in people who have overdosed on stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, or Adderall.
In an overdose, the effects of the substance may occur at a heightened level compared to the effects seen with regular use. In overdose, side effects become more pronounced, so drugs like opioids that cause sedation and shallow breathing may lead to unconsciousness and respiratory depression during an overdose.
Additionally, the duration of overdose symptoms, age, how long the person has been using the drug, and the dosage of the substance can impact the severity of overdose symptoms. Overdoses may also worsen an existing condition that the individual may have.
Common overdose symptoms include:
The liver and kidneys may also undergo severe damage during an overdose as they attempt to clean the body out of the substance. If you notice that someone is overdosing, call 9-1-1 right away. If you know someone who’s battling substance abuse and is at risk of overdosing, our medically monitored detox can help them begin their recovery.
Now to answer the critical issue: how long does it take to recover from an overdose? As we mentioned, for the severity and duration of overdose symptoms, major factors that affect how long OD recovery takes to include a person’s age, any preexisting conditions, the type of drug they overdosed on, the dosage they ingested, and how long it took them to receive medical treatment.
It is also important to note that lasting recovery or complete recovery from overdose may be difficult or impossible if lasting damage has been done. Additionally, the risk of long-term damage is higher in cases when the individual did not receive medical treatment.
For instance, many individuals who overdose on depressants are likely to experience respiratory depression, which makes it difficult for the person to get enough oxygen to their brain. As a result, the individual may pass out and experience brain damage.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or a year to recover from an overdose. Again, recovery all depends on the extent of the damage.
Considering that overdose is a common risk for people with addictions, what better way to prevent one and/or recover from one than to treat the addiction? Whether you have experienced an overdose and need help quitting or want to avoid it, our residential Texas treatment center offers detox and inpatient care that can make sobriety possible. You can work day-to-day with our specialists to regain your health and control over your life.