Drug Abuseemergency sign at hospital

If you know someone who is abusing drugs, you may sometimes wonder how to react in case of an emergency situation. If you do find yourself in a position where a friend or relative is experiencing a bad reaction to drug use, the following information may help you to deal with the situation.

Important: Addiction Friend does not provide advice for medical emergencies. Please contact the emergency services if you need urgent assistance.


Drug Abuse Warning Signs

Somebody having a bad experience from drug use may be:
  • anxious
  • tense
  • panicky
  • overheated
  • dehydrated
  • drowsy
  • having difficulty with breathing


What you can do to help


Your initial response should be to:
  • Stay calm
  • Calm them and be reassuring
  • Do not scare them or cause them to panic
  • Find out what substance they have taken
  • Stay with them
If they seem anxious, panicky or tense you should:
  • Sit them in a room that is calm and quiet
  • Ask them to take slow and deep breaths
  • Stay with them
  • Protect them from crowds, bright lights and loud noises
If they seem drowsy you should:
  • Sit them in a quiet place and keep them awake
  • If they are unresponsive or become unconscious then immediately call an ambulance and place them in the recovery position
  • Do not scare them, shock them or shout at them
  • Do not try to wake them up by giving them any kind of stimulant
If they are having difficulty breathing or are unconscious you should:
  • Immediately call for an ambulance
  • Place them into the recovery position
  • Stay with them until the ambulance arrives
  • Give the ambulance crew as much information as possible including all you know about what drug(s) your friend had taken and if they have been drinking.


Recovery position

You can help someone breath more easily and prevent them from swallowing their tongue by placing them in the recovery position. This will also help stop them from blocking their airways and choking if they vomit.

  • Open their airway by tilting the head and lifting their chin. Lie them on their side and straighten their legs.
  • Place the arm nearest to you at right angles to the body. Get hold of the far leg just above the knee and pull it up, keeping the foot flat on the ground. Place their other hand against their cheek.


  • Keep their hand pressed against their cheek and pull on the upper leg to roll them towards you and onto their side.


  • Tilt the head back so they can breathe easily.
  • Make sure that both the hip and the knee of the upper leg are bent at right angles.



If you have a medical emergency you should contact the emergency services immediately. If you require immediate admission to a rehab clinic then contact Addiction Friend now.


Immediate Rehab Admission

Immediate admission to a rehab clinic is possible and often necessary where patients and their families can find themselves in crisis situations. Addiction Friend can help you find the most appropriate treatment for you or a friend/family member.

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