Drugs & Alcohol

The Poison Center can help in the assessment of overdoses. We are here 24/7 to take your calls.

Prescription Pain Medication

Opioids are a class of drugs commonly used to relieve pain. Less often, they can be used to help a cough or diarrhea. Common examples are oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), morphine (MSContin), codeine (Tylenol #3), and many more.

These drugs are often prescribed after a surgery or injury to patients who may or may not have ever taken opioids before. They also are prescribed to patients who take them for long-term management of pain caused by various medical conditions. Opioids or painkillers affect certain areas of the brain that regulate breathing patterns. Combing pain medications with alcohol and other medications increases your risk of an overdose.

Symptoms of an overdose may include:

  • Slow, shallow or absent breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Snore-like gurgling or choking sounds
  • Bluish, greyish or ashen skin tones

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse an overdose from pain medications or opioids. It is available at locations across the state and easy to give in the case of an overdose.

For more information about overdoses, prevention and Naloxone go to TakeAsPrescribed.org

Share, print or download our fact sheets on Opioids and Naloxone:



Fentanyl is a very powerful painkiller. It typically comes as a prescription transdermal patch, but can also be found in some illegally manufactured drugs on the street. If used or abused by someone to whom it is not prescribed, Fentanyl can be extremely dangerous. The main concern with its use is that the person would stop breathing properly, which can be fatal.

Symptoms of a overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Very slow breathing
  • Coma


Sedatives are a type of drug used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. These drugs can be especially dangerous if taken over the prescribed dose or with alcohol.

Symptoms of an overdose:

  • Slow and labored breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Dizziness and unsteadiness
  • Shock
  • Slurred Speech
  • Coma

Some commonly prescribed sedatives for anxiety are Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, and Valium. Muscle relaxers, like Flexeril, Soma, and Robaxin, are also considered sedatives. Sleep agents, including Ambien and Lunesta, are also sedatives. These medications should be kept secured and away from children at all times.


Antidepressants, when used at their prescribed dose, can be safe and effective to combat mood disorders. However, when these drugs are taken above the prescribed dose or by someone for whom they were not prescribed, they can become dangerous. There are many types of antidepressants. The signs and symptoms of an overdose will be different depending on drug was taken.

Symptoms of overdose from a tri-cyclic antidepressant (amitriptyline, nortriptyline or desipramine):

  • Dilated pupils
  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Irregular or rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures


Alcoholic beverages can be unsafe when consumed in excess, and is especially dangerous when taken in combination with other drugs or medications.

Prescription medications that can cause severe side effects in combination with alcohol include medicines for anxiety, sleep and pain. Street drugs - including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin - can also cause extreme side effects, even death, when used with alcohol.

Signs of alcohol poisoning or overdose:

  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
  • Irregular breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Passing out and can't be awakened
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Low body temperature

The type of alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages, known as ethanol, can also be found in some household and hygiene products. Some products that can contain ethanol are mouthwash, hand sanitizer, facial toner, and perfume.