Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose

Opioid overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Rhode Island.

What users can do to prevent an overdose death

  • Get help for opioid use disorder;
  • Don't use alone – pair up;
  • Don't mix drugs like benzodiazepines, alcohol, or opioids;
  • Talk with friends and family about responding to an overdose and using naloxone in case of an opioid overdose.
  • Get naloxone and learn how to use it at any pharmacy. Friends and family should learn how to use it if you overdose.
  • Learn more about safer drug use practices on Prevent Overdose RI.

What friends and family can do to prevent an overdose death

  • Call 9-1-1 if you find someone in an overdosed state. Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives.
  • Try to wake the person up by yelling their name and rubbing the middle of the chest hard;
  • Try rescue breathing;
  • Put the person on their side so they do not choke;
  • Stock and use naloxone (also known as Narcan®) to stop a opioid overdose. Rhode Island Walgreens and CVS pharmacies sell this antidote without a doctor's prescription, and it is covered by most health insurers. Training on this drug will be provided when it is purchased;
  • Store all medication in a secure location more;
  • Safely dispose of all unused medications;
  • Help loved ones who are struggling with opioid addiction.

Signs of an overdose

If a person has any of these signs and cannot respond to you, he/she may be having a drug overdose. An overdose usually happens 1 to 3 hours after a person has used.

  • Heavy nodding;
  • No response when you yell the person's name or rub the middle of the chest hard;
  • Blue lips or blue fingertips;
  • Slow breathing (less than 1 breath every 5 seconds) or no breathing;
  • Very limp body and very pale face;
  • Choking sounds or a gurgling, snoring noise.