First Aid Workbook 23JUN17

Medication or drug overdose Causes - Drug use is common in today’s society, especially the so called “party drugs”. Many have dangerous side effects, particularly if they are mixed together or taken with alcohol. Whilst the major cause of drug overdose is illegal drugs, legal and prescription drugs taken in the wrong doses or combinations can also be of concern. Regardless of the drug taken, getting help as soon as possible is vital.

Symptoms - Witnesses or bystanders can help with what type of drug has been taken. Witnesses should be assured that they will not get into trouble by the police if they admit that illegal drugs were involved. It is way more important to get that information so the casualty can be treated appropriately. Other evidence may be syringes, empty bottles, containers, left over drugs. A person that has overdosed may have pale, cold clammy skin, be very drowsy and nauseous and could vomit. First aid - If an overdose is suspected immediately call Triple Zero (000). Many overdoses cause death. Treatment should be in accordance with the casualty’s condition. Try to ascertain what has been taken, how much and when. Call the Australian Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. Treat the unconscious and resuscitate if required. Monitor the casualty and manage as required until the ambulance arrives.

A description of commonly used drugs:


What does it do

Possible serious side effects

Alcohol – Although legal, it is still a drug. Taken by : A liquid taken by drinking it.

Alters the psychological state. Relaxant or stimulant.

Serious effects: falls / obstructed airway if casualty vomits in their sleep or passes out whilst lying on their back / damage to the heart / stroke / brain damage / dementia / nerve damage / coma / death.

Decreases anxiety. Reduces inhibitions.

Heroin – An ‘Opiate' drug. Taken by : Injecting, inhaled or smoked. Benzodiazepines – ‘Benzos' or ‘BZDs’. Minor tranquillisers / sedatives / relaxants / anti-anxiety pills / sleepers. Taken by : Usually swallowing in the form of tablets, pills and capsules. Cocaine – Stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Taken by : Snorting, injecting, ingesting, or smoking. Ecstasy – ‘MDMA’. Synthetic drug called methylenedioxymethamphetamine. Taken: Usually swallowed orally in the form of tablets, pills and capsules. Rohypnol – ‘Date rape’ drug. The trade name for flunitrazepam. Taken : Small white tablets: taken orally / ground up & snorted / ground up & dissolved into a drink. Liquid Ecstasy – ‘Grievous bodily harm’ or ‘Fantasy’. Different to ecstasy. Gamma- hydroxybutyrate or GHB. Also found in cleaners, strippers and solvents. Taken : Orally via a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid / small bottles or vials. May also be bright blue or a crystal powder. Crystal Methamphetamine (Meth) – ‘Ice’ or ‘Glass’. Made of highly volatile, toxic substances such as methylamine and amyl amine. Taken by: Snorting, smoking, or injecting.

A depressant.

Suppression of breathing / coma / permanent brain damage / death.

Used to treat anxiety, insomnia, agitation,

Overdose - deep unconsciousness. Death is rare; however combined with other central nervous system depressants such as ethanol and opiates, the potential for death increases. Heart attack / neurological effects / seizures followed by respiratory arrest / stroke / cardiac arrest / death.

seizures, muscle spasms. Premedication for medical or dental procedures. Stimulates (speeds up) the central nervous system. Euphoria. Energetic, talkative, mentally alert.


Alters the user’s perception of reality.

A sharp increase in body temperature / liver, kidney, or cardiovascular system failure / death.

Produces sedative-hypnotic effects. Muscle relaxation. Amnesia. Dependence.

Mixed with alcohol it can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. Can be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants. Nausea / vomiting / delusions / depression / loss of balance / seizures / respiratory distress / loss of consciousness / low heart rate & blood pressure / amnesia / coma.

A powerful, rapidly acting central nervous system depressant drug. Sedative and anaesthetic effects. Euphoria. Hallucinations. Relaxant. Reduces inhibitions. A false sense of happiness and well-being. A rush of confidence. Hyperactivity and energy. Decreased appetite.

Systematically destroys the body. Highly addictive. Can only be relieved by taking more. Memory loss / aggression / psychotic behaviour / potential heart and brain damage.


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