How long does it take to recover from a drug overdose?

What is an overdose?

A drug overdose is taking too much of a substance, whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter, legal, or illegal. Drug overdoses may be accidental or intentional. If you’ve taken more than the recommended amount of a drug or enough to have a harmful effect on your body’s functions, you have overdosed. There are different reactions to the body when an overdose occurs. For instance, if someone is overdosing off of heroin then their respiratory system starts to shut down as with cocaine or meth, there could be problems with the heart- for example, a heart attack.

An overdose can lead to serious medical complications, including death. The severity of a drug overdose depends on the drug, the amount taken, and the physical and medical history of the person who overdosed. Some overdoses can have long term damage such as the brain not working correctly, or not being able to walk or talk again. The time it takes to recover from an overdose varies person to person.

What are some symptoms of a drug overdose?

Depending on the how much of the drug was consumed, how it was ingested, the type of drug that was taken, determines the extent of how severe of the drug overdose is. The worst long lasting symptom of an overdose is death. Other symptoms of a drug overdose can include losing coordination or control over bodily functions, nerve damage and the lack of ability to use their limbs. In some major cases, a drug overdose can even lead to paralysis.

Stimulants such as cocaine, meth or ecstasy can lead to something called “overamping.” The overdose symptoms of stimulants may include seizures, raise blood pressure and heart rate, heart attack or stroke which can be hard to recover from.

Alcohol Overdose

An overdose on alcohol is also known as “alcohol poisoning.” To get alcohol depends on the amount that was consumed, the type of alcohol that was consumed. Alcohol poisoning and recovery time also depends on the gender, height, weight and tolerance of an individual. The symptoms of an alcohol overdose are: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Loss of consciousness

Benzodiazepine Overdose

Benzodiazepines also known as benzos” are a prescription drug used medically as tranquilizers. Benzos are also used to ease anxiety or during surgery to help with sedation. Usually taken for their calming effects, examples of benzos are Xanax, Ambien and Valium. Benzos act as central nervous system depressants that slow the activity in the brain. This sedating effect is responsible for many of the symptoms seen in benzo overdoses. Symptoms of an overdose are:

  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Tremors
  • Coma
  • Stupor
  • Weakness

Opioids / Heroin

One of the most dangerous things about heroin or any other opioids is that it suppresses the respiratory system. During an opioid overdose, a person suffers from asphyxia (lack of oxygen) and respiratory depression (lack of breathing). This commonly leads to death during an opioid overdose. Heroin also may be laced with other drugs without the user’s knowledge. One drug which is commonly added to heroin is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is 50 times stronger than heroin. When the brain is cut off from oxygen for 3-5 minutes this can lead to permanent brain damage.  Other signs and symptoms of a heroin overdose include:


  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsive to outside stimulus
  • Awake, but unable to talk
  • Breathing is very slow and shallow, erratic, or has stopped
  • For lighter skinned people, the skin tone turns bluish purple, for darker skinned people, it turns grayish or ashen.
  • Choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise (sometimes called the “death rattle”)
  • Vomiting
  • Body is very limp
  • Face is very pale or clammy
  • Fingernails and lips turn blue or purplish black
  • Pulse (heartbeat) is slow, erratic, or not there at all

Methamphetamine Overdose

The purity and amount of the drug greatly affects how long it takes to recover from an overdose on meth or how long the overdose will last. It also depends on how the drug was ingested (i.e. inhalation, intranasal or intravenous).  A meth overdose can be acute, which means side effects are experienced immediately after taking the drug. Long-lasting health effects of meth are referred to as a. Symptoms of a meth overdose are:

  • Convulsions
  • Chest pain
  • Delusional behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Wide pupils
  • Labored or difficult breathing
  • Seizures
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)

Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine is a stimulant like methamphetamine and ecstasy. A cocaine overdose depends on the amount that was consumed, how it was ingested whether it was via inhalation, intranasal or intravenous. Also, a cocaine overdose depends on the weight, height and tolerance of an individual. Symptoms of a cocaine overdose include:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Extreme anxiety or confusion

There are so many resources out there that can help treat someone addicted to drugs and alcohol. We are Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center that will medically detox someone who is coming off drugs and alcohol. The first step would be to detox and get rid of the drug from the body’s system. Medically assisted detox is an effective method through the use of non-addictive medications that are used temporarily which ease the withdrawal symptoms.

We accept a wide variety of different insurance plans.


How to Find the Best Detox Center

We want you to know that no matter where you are located, you can find a quality detox center and treatment help. There are some key factors you should pay attention to, to find the best detox center for yourself or loved one. First, look at their staff and the credentials that they have to make sure they have experienced staff members in addiction treatment who can actually help you recover. You can also look at reviews for centers online on Google Business and Yelp. You will also want to make sure that the detox or treatment center can accept your medical insurance.

At Beginnings Treatment Centers, we accept most private and employer policy medical insurances as well as policies under your parents. If you would like to verify if your insurance covers detox and treatment, you can fill out this form. We are confident that we can help you and/or your loved ones fully recover from an addiction and would love to have you as a part of our growing alumni community. We are so confident that we offer a 90-day treatment pledge for you. Call us today to get admitted into a world-class detox and treatment center today, no matter where in the country you are.

Other Addiction Treatment Information

If you’re unsure of which type of treatment you need, one of our staff will help you to select an option that meets your needs. Call us now!

Beginnings Treatment aims to offer a broad range of care to suit the needs of every one of our patients


Finding Help for Drug / Alcohol Dependence

If you or a loved one is ready to take the steps to get help, the team at Beginnings Treatment is here to help.
We offer qualified evidence-based care designed to help each of our patients make the most of time spent in recovery so they can move on and back into a healthy and happy life. Like our name says, we aim to offer new beginnings for every patient.

  • Insurance – You are entitled to insurance coverage for addiction treatment under the Affordable Care Act. However, your provider may work with specific treatment centers, may only cover a certain number of days in treatment, or a certain percentage of treatment. If you’re unsure if your insurance provider covers care at our facility, contact us and we can help you find out.
  • Payment Help – We work with My Treatment Lender to ensure each of our patients can afford the care they need. Beginnings Treatment does not recommend that you take any financial action without consulting a financial advisor.
  • Time off Work – You are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave from work under the Family and Medical Leave Act. You are also entitled to seek out rehabilitation for a substance use disorder under the ACA. It is up to you how much you wish to disclose to your employer when seeking this time off.

Addiction treatment is the first and most crucial step on your way to recovery


Our focus on individual care, science-based treatment, and follow-up is designed to ensure the best possible outcomes for every patient.
Recovering from drug addiction is a long battle that will require years of effort, care, and treatment. You will need consistent mental, psychological, and emotional support to win. We are here to help you on your way, with strong foundations designed to ensure you have the tools to live your best sober life.