When Your Friend Overdoses on Drugs

Intentional or accidental overdoses can occur when you or your friend takes too much of a drug—even if it's the first time taking the drug, and whether the drug is illicit, prescription, or over the counter. And if an overdose happens to your friend, you have to think twice about your responsibilities.

A drug overdose can be hard to identify, because overdose symptoms vary based on the drug and the person taking it. Depending on the drug, symptoms can include trouble breathing, convulsions, vomiting, or unconsciousness.

And on top of being unsure about your friend’s condition, you’re also scared:

“I don’t want my parents to know I was around drugs.”

“I wasn’t even supposed to be at this party—I said I was at the library.”

“I was the one who gave my friend the drugs and I don’t want to get into trouble.”

“But what if my friend just needs to sleep it off?”

iPhone with numbers 9-1-1 being dialed

The truth is, even if you’re going to get into trouble, if you don’t do the right thing your friend could be critically injured or die. If you know something is wrong, get help. Call 911, or ask your friend's parents or a responsible adult for help. Doing nothing is the worst thing you can do!

What should you do in the case of a drug overdose?

If you suspect a friend has overdosed, getting medical attention can save his or her life! Call 911, give accurate details about what happened, and make sure you provide first responders or emergency medical personnel with as much information as possible.

  • What drug(s) did your friend take?
  • How long ago were they taken?
  • How much was taken?
  • Who else should be contacted immediately?

Be honest with the medical professionals who ask questions about your friend. Withholding even one piece of information or lying could have serious consequences. The medical staff must know as much as they can to treat your friend properly. It can be the difference between life and death!

Calling 911 during an overdose can often mean the difference between life and death. The chance of surviving an overdose depends greatly on how quickly a person receives medical assistance.

To find out if your state has a Good Samaritan Law, you can check on your state government’s legislative website. CHECK NOW >

At least 17 states and the District of Columbia have already enacted Good Samaritan Laws, which provide limited immunity from arrest or prosecution for minor drug law violations for people who get help at the scene of an overdose. More states are considering similar measures. 

Good Samaritan laws do not protect people from arrest for other offenses, such as selling or trafficking drugs. But they do protect the caller and overdose victim from arrest and/or prosecution for simple possession, possession of paraphernalia, and/or being under the influence.

You would want someone to call for help if you were the overdose victim. Getting help is the right thing to do any time someone’s life is at risk.

Here’s a case of someone who overdosed – and her friends did the wrong thing. Emylee paid the ultimate price. And her friends are paying the price for covering it up.

“McLean High School student’s heroin overdose shows a disturbing trend facing police.”