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Helping a Teen After an Overdose


teen who overdosed

A drug overdose is the body’s physical response to an inability to adequately metabolize the excess of substance or substances a young person has ingested. Addiction Center defines an overdose as an individual’s “biological response to when the human body receives too much of a substance or mix of substances.” When a physical body is bombarded with a substance or substances that it is unable to process, whether it is due to the potency of the substance or the amount used, it must react. Some teenagers will be able to recover fully from an overdose experience, while others may be left with permanent organ damage and/ or other life-long side effects. A drug overdose can be a result of an individual accidentally ingesting a toxic combination or amount of drugs, or it may be intentional. It is important to note that any teenager that abuses drugs is at risk, as overdose can basically occur at random.

Overdose Symptoms

In order to be able to help a young person experiencing an overdose it is essential to be aware of common symptoms of overdose. It is not uncommon for a young person experiencing an overdose to be unaware of it in the moment, due to heavy intoxication. Some typical symptoms associated with overdose include the follow examples, as provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH): 

  • Severe headache 
  • Chest pain
  • Seizure
  • Delirium
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Agitation
  • Passing out
  • Dilated pupils
  • Clammy skin
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting 
  • Increased or decreased body temperature

If you are ever in a situation where you see the above signs occur and are concerned that someone may be experiencing an overdose, please call 911 immediately.

Next Steps

Experiencing an overdose can be highly traumatic, both for the young person enduring the overdose as well as those witnessing the event. The best way to help a teenager after an overdose is to encourage them to a consult with a mental health professional. Regardless of whether the overdose was done intentionally or unintentionally, it is a clear cry for help. Some teenagers may benefit from attending a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. Prioritizing your teenager’s mental wellbeing is the best way you can show your support for their healing and recovery process. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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