Emergencies

How to Recognize and Respond to an Alcohol or Other Drug Overdose

An overdose happens when the body is overwhelmed by too much of a substance or a combination of substances. It is possible to overdose on alcohol, other drugs and prescription medications. An overdose can result in serious health effects and death.

Signs of Alcohol or Drug Overdose

Signs of an overdose vary depending on the type of substance used and whether a person mixed substances. Signs may include:

  • Person is unresponsive and cannot be woken
  • Breathing is slow, weak or absent (normal respiration is 12-20 breaths/minute)
  • Skin is cool and sweaty (clammy) or hot and dry
  • Pale or ashen skin
  • Blue or purple lips or nails
  • Choking or snore-like gurgling sounds
  • Slow, erratic or undetectable pulse
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Small, ‘pinpoint’ pupils
  • Seizure

What to Do

It may be hard to tell whether a person is experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, treat it like an overdose—you could save a life.

  • Call 911 (or 414-229-9911 from on-campus)
  • If you suspect an opioid overdose, administer naloxone, if available*
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking in case of vomiting
  • If no response within 2-3 minutes, give another dose of naloxone
  • Stay with the person until emergency responders arrive

*Naloxone/NARCAN is a medication that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Don’t Let Fear of Getting in Trouble Prevent You from Getting Help

Students who actively seek assistance from police or UWM staff for someone (including self) who is overly intoxicated/impaired due to alcohol or other drugs, stay on the scene and cooperate with police and UWM staff will not face university discipline or UWM Police citations for underage alcohol and/or other drug use.
Remember to CALL, STAY and COOPERATE.