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What Happens During Opioid Overdose

What Happens During Opioid Overdose

Drug and alcohol overdoses occur when someone takes too much of a substance, overloading their system.

Overdoses can be deadly, causing a variety of effects and even death. For some more severe overdoses, especially those with depressants, involve a degree of brain injury. 25% of patients receiving rehabilitative care for brain injuries have been injured by an overdose.1 Drugs such as opioids and alcohol can create excessive sedation during an overdose, resulting in slowed breathing that reduces oxygen provided to the brain, causing brain injury.

What Is Happening During an Overdose?

When someone is overdosing, they’ll likely exhibit signs of overdose such as slowed breathing, slow heartbeat, or excessive tiredness. Here’s what’s happening in the brain and body during opioid overdose:

  1. Opioid receptors in the brain and body are flooded
  2. A high is experienced due to this flooding of receptors in the brain
  3. Breathing and wakefulness slow, with the overdosing individual getting sleepier with more shallow breathing
  4. Heart rate can slow, leading to cardiac arrest
  5. Oxygen supply to the brain is limited, due to lowered breathing and heart rate
  6. Brain damage or death can occur if Narcan is not administered

Overdose Effects – Memory Problems Due to Drug Overdose

There are many problems that can happen when the brain is denied oxygen for too long. On average, lack of oxygen for four minutes or more can result in brain damage to some degree. Often, this manifests in less obvious ways. Lack of oxygen as a result of drug overdose may lead to memory problems, depression, anxiety, issues with motor skills, or difficulty with decision making. 2

Treating Addiction in Stuart, Florida

At Banyan Detox Stuart, we offer drug, alcohol, and prescription drug detox in Stuart. Many of the long-term effects of overdose can be treated, and sobriety is always the best choice for improving overall health.

Contact us today to sign up for our drug detox in Stuart. Call 888-280-4763 to speak with our team.


  1. Brain Injury Association of America – The Solution to Opioids is Treatment
  2. WOSU – What Happens in the Brian Of Overdose Survivors?

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
What Happens During Opioid Overdose
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