Heroin Overdose: The Signs, Dangers and Myths

Heroin is a very dangerous drug that produces potentially life-threatening consequences. One of the biggest dangers of heroin addiction is overdose. Even those who have used heroin for years are at risk for overdosing every time they take a hit.

Signs of Heroin Overdose

Heroin overdose is extremely dangerous. If you recognize any of the following signs of heroin overdose, seek immediate medical help.

  • Shallow breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Bluish skin, fingernails and/or lips
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Cold/clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Tongue discoloration
  • Stomach spasms
  • Coma
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle spasms/rigid muscles

Dangers of Heroin Overdose

Heroin attacks the central nervous system, causing a person’s breathing and heart rate to slow down to a point where it ultimately stops altogether. Sometimes people who overdose will pass out or slip into a coma or death without anyone even noticing, because it appears as if they’re experiencing a “normal” high. Other times, an overdose is more obvious. Since heroin overdose varies, you never know if you’ll have time to receive medical help or if you’ll slip into coma or death before help arrives.

The other danger of heroin overdose is the long-term physical and mental effects an overdose can have your body. Brain damage can occur if the brain is deprived of oxygen for any length of time; infections or viruses can permanently stay in the blood or organs; and combining heroin with other drugs can bring about long-term psychosis and create fundamental changes in the brain.

Myths of Heroin Overdose

If someone you know is experiencing a heroin overdose, the number-one thing you should do is seek medical help. Do NOT attempt to do any of the following misconceptions about how to handle a person overdosing:

  • Don’t let the person sleep it off.
  • Don’t put them in the shower (they could go into shock).
  • Don’t inject them with anything else, including water, salty water, coke, speed, milk.
  • Don’t try to induce vomiting or get them to walk around. This only wastes valuable time.
  • Don’t put anything in their mouth if they’re having a seizure.
  • Don’t force them to eat or drink anything.
  • Don’t leave them in the street hoping that someone else will help them. Take them to the emergency room.

Treating Heroin Overdose at Casa Palmera

At Casa Palmera, our goal is to help you overcome your addiction to heroin and avoid the dangers of heroin overdose. The skills you learn at our heroin addiction treatment program will help you return to the world healthy, strong, and able to avoid the temptations of drug use.

We understand that addiction is a complex disorder and that there are many reasons why a person uses drugs in the first place. That’s why we focus on individualized treatment based on a holistic program that treats not only the physical dependence on heroin but also the emotional and mental issues that have fueled the drug use. In addition to traditional methods of heroin addiction treatment, we also offer a variety of holistic methods such as acupuncture, massage and yoga to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and return you to a balanced state of well-being.


22 Responses to “Heroin Overdose: The Signs, Dangers and Myths”

  1. Nina 27

    the only thing I can say is that when I first tried it it was like my best friend and it became my worst enemy in just a month and a half…. I’m constantly dreaming about it, it’s all I can think about 24 hours a day and I want to stop but I don’t know where to begin .. I’ve been to meetings, nothing seems to help stop the cravings, have any advice please let me know

  2. greg

    hy nina i’m from belgium so please forgive me my typingfaults but i’ve been a heroinaddict myself and i can only say go to a doctor and ask him to prescripe methadon..he will help you out further but for me metha was e great help with helping let go the heroin…sure its not easy but willing really to stop will get you going…it wasted too much of my years/money and in particular my thoughts!!every day we strugle to get clean!!(me and some friends)..good luck

  3. Niki

    I’m so sorry, my son was 27 and overdosed on February28. I ‘m not sure how you are getting by, but I am a BASKET CASE. Today is my birthday and believe me I will be home crying all day and night.

  4. Debby

    I’m sorry Nikki my daughter died of a Heroin Over-dose on the 7th February injected by her partener,I know how you are feeling this gut wrenching pain that won’t go away she was only 32 years old and had apparently not used it often I don’t know much about it but I’m learning what an evil drug it is I wish the young were not looking for this feeling at all through drugs but onlife my thought’s are with you…Kind Regards Debby

  5. Lauri


    You need help. You can’t do it alone. You need to get into a 28-42 day inpatient detox/rehab facility; begin a 12-step program there, and then move on to a recovery home for 6-9 months. There are people there who can and will help you and teach you how to live drug/alcohol free. My daughter is a heroin addict. She is 76 days clean today and in a recovery home 1700 miles away from home, away from her co-addicts, and away from her triggers. I miss her terribly and my heart breaks every time she calls because I miss her so much… but she’s alive and doing great! She tells me that the urge is still there, and it will be for a long long time, BUT she lives in a recovery home with 7 other recovering addicts in a very highly populated recovery town, and they are very serious about staying clean and helping each other do the same. Please, get help while you still can.

    Meetings are helpful, but you really need that initial month of inpatient to go through the withdrawals and get on the other side (the sober side). They will give you the tools you need to stay clean… but you have to do the work. When my daughter was in the inpatient phase, I was truly amazed by the bonds that were formed between the addicts with each other and the counselor/addict bonds along with the encouragement and support everyone freely gave to each other. It’s a great place to start. Please get help for yourself.

  6. Pete

    I lost my partner to a heroin overdose 2weeks ago I’ve bin on it fo 30 years she had being using for 10 but didn’t have a habit as she only used at weekends I woke up with my arms around her cuddled up but she didn’t wake up all her family have turned against me our house was in her name she was the love of my life how long I live is not my concern any more I wouldn’t care if I dropped dead now I miss her so much

  7. Kim

    Pete my brother died jan 17 I miss him so much he was my best friend .l begged him to get help not to leave me alone I sit here alone. I’ve never done heroin but I have done pain pills. Please don’t give up get help there are people out there who care . Her family had to blame someone i’m so sorry for your loss.

  8. symone breeana bracey andrews

    Ive been a herion addict for 18yrs and am still on the methadone. my defacto wasnt a user and sadly he passed away june 4th 2013. I’m left now bringing up my son who is 1.5 yrs old and its killed me. Im doing more drugs now than ever as Im so depressed. he was my soul mate at heart and knowing he isnt comin back has killed me inside. In 2wks im meeting his whole family ive never met an have been told they mentally physically emotionally fuck up my defacto. what do I do? should I take my son to the memorial. im so confused, I cant stop crying it is totally fucked. the good die young. I musnt be good. r.i.p ty I loved you baby.

    • Casa Palmera

      Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your loss and recent struggles. For help we recommend contacting your treating physician. You may also contact us for help and more information at 1-866-768-6719 or email info@casapalmera.com.

  9. brandy

    Hey I’m brandy I’m 22 I was addicted to heroin since I was 16 I was clean from 18 to 20 then I relapsed. I have od three times I just now got clean when I found out I was prego with my son at age 21 it is a struggle everyday. I relapsed multiple time since I had my son but because of god good grace i am alive. And I am sorry to all who hasn’t had the good luck or what u wanna call it that I did to where I didn’t die or was able to be brought back. I am clean now, everyday is a struggle I love heroin I like it to much but I realize that now.

  10. sandy

    3 nights ago I came home from work finding my son passed out and not breathing skin gray . He is 22 yrs old I called 911, help was on the way but me his mom who loves him more then life who brought him into this world had to do CPR until help got there. I pumping his chest crying and screaming as hard the whole time the operator saying calm down, your doing good. But still seeing no sign of life then help got there. I was a basket case they brought him back. I fell apart knowing how close I came to losing him. I never want to experience that again. Told him if he wants to keep using and wants to die then go away so I am not the one who will find him. I have heart trouble and fighting to live while he is killing him self. HERION and all drugs suck.

  11. rick

    Hello Sandy what a terrible expernce that must have been for you .i have been a heroin addict for 15 years and overdosed 3 times ,ive moved away and ive been clean for 3 monthes now, so it can be done. You can talk and preach to him untill yr blue in the face , he want get better untill he is ready to,he may not belive he has a problem yet ,i know i didnt for a long time, some say tough love is the answer for parents, i would just let him know you love him and be there for him when he decides to do something about his addiction.
    I attend meetings called “smart” its not quite as full on as na allthough this works for many people . Anyway take care Sandy i wish your family all the best .

  12. julie

    My sister passed away on the 8th june this year after giving up heroin for almost a year. Her bf got out of jail and the next day she died alone while he was sleeping it off upstairs. He never even had the decency to say a word to us. I feel so lost and think about her constently. I understand its very addictive i just wish that users could see the feel the pain the family and friends go through after losing someone so pointlessly. Its such a stupid way to go.

  13. kayley

    My boyfreind oded tonite and i got him up Walked him to the kitchen rubbed ice over his head, neck and upper body he came to this is the second time ive had to bring him back but this time was much worst he almost didnt come back. I really think washington state should make narcan availble to the public because what if i cant bring him back next time help wouldnt get to my house in time plus my man would kill me if i called for help and he came to before they even got here, which is what would have happened if i did call 911. Narcan would save slot of lives.

  14. kay

    My beautiful 22 yr old sister got hooked on percocet… Soon after she realised it eould b cheaper to buy heroin… She started sleeping with random men.. Sharing needles.. Driving high… stealing from the family. I tried numerous times to talk her into getting help but an addict can only b helped when they want it. Im 26 yrs old… I had a son n got peridontle disease so i was prescribed alot of pain meds… It got to a point when i started buying them because i was scared id grt pain again… Didnt know at the time that my mind was playing tricks on me… I was baited n hooked. I went to rehab three times in a five week period.. My son couldnt keep me clean.. My mom or myfiancee… It wasnt until i hit rock bottom fallin asleep behind the wheel… Totalling my car n losing everything that i had enough. I went to a program from detox n then to another. Proud to say 2012 july… I stopped abusing pain meds.. It works if u work it

  15. Recovering One day at a time

    Rehab with medical detox is your best bet Nina. I was deathly ill because I did it cold turkey. I couldn’t hold A DRINK of water down for 10-11 days I don’t remember ever being that sick in my life and had never prayed for death until then. There are maintenance programs also such as suboxone and methadone but that’s treating one addiction with another in my opinion because you also have to come off of those things. Methadone is pretty much synthetic heroin that’s extremely hard to get off of. Where I live none of the Methadone clinics even attempt to wean you off unless you ask which most ppl never do because the money they make giving you another drug legally they want to keep coming. The main problem I think or is here where I live and Im sure is every where else is rehab and treatment facilities are very expensive and hard to get into without plenty of money or really good insurance, so its cheaper to keep using. Anyone wanting to quit needs the mental treatment just as much if not more than the physical treatment. I can assure you both go hand in hand if you really want to stop using forever. Its gonna take way more than 30 days of treatment to train your brain to not want to get high. You have bad days here and there just like people that don’t use the key is to teach you how to cope with lifes stress without using. Coming from a recovering addict its not easy at first but every day gets better and before you know it you haven’t used in a year or 5 years. I only have 10 months today but my worse day sober is better than my best day high. I wish you the best and hope you find help soon.


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