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Self-Poisoning & Overdoses

Self-Poisoning – Where someone purposely exposes themselves to a poisonous substance as a method of self harm or suicide.

Overdose – When someone takes more than the daily recommended dose for a medication or substance it is considered an overdose. This may be done by accident, or as a method of self harm or suicide.

Anytime you have taken an overdose or self poisoning, intentional or not, you should get checked out by a doctor.

Overdoses and Self-poisoning can cause the following problems and complications:

- Permanent damage to your Heart, kidney, liver, brain and other organs.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
- Ulcers and damage to the stomach lining.
- Death to the tissue exposed to the poison.
- Decreased level of consciousness:
If someone throws up while they have a decreased level of consciousness it can cause them to inhale their stomach contents. This can cause someone to choke, or develop an infection in their lungs that can cause permanent damage.
- Seizures, coma and death.
The signs and symptoms of self-poisoning or an overdose will vary depending on the substance taken. However the following are some general signs and symptoms.

- Missing pills/medications
- Empty medication containers/pill bottles
- Empty containers of things that are poisonous.
- Vomit with pills in it.
- Headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Abdominal pain.
- Chest pain or difficulty breathing.
- Blurred visions, slurred speech, lack of coordination or balance.
- Irritability/Combativeness
- Decreased level of consciousness.
- Seizures.
Not all substances will cause symptoms to appear right away. Some substances can stay in your system for days, or the damage can continue for days without you even knowing it. Just because someone feels fine after an overdose or self-poisoning DOES NOT mean that there was no damage to their system.

If you or someone you know has taken an overdose or self-poisoning;

DO NOT give ANYTHING by mouth.
DO NOT Sleep
DO NOT Drive
DO NOT encourage someone to throw up if they are suspected of consuming a liquid poison or medication.
DO NOT encourage someone to throw up if they have a decreased level of consciousness.

DO encourage them to throw up if they have taken a solid substance and are fully awake.
DO call your doctor, GP, NHS, USA poison control, or your local emergency number. You can find a list of national emergency numbers here
DO find someone to take you to the appropriate medical facility as directed by the medical professional you spoke with at one of the above numbers.

Call an ambulance immediately if someone has overdosed or been poisoned and

They are combative
They can't walk or move without assistance
They are having seizures
They are unconscious or have a decreased level of consciousness
They have stopped breathing

When you go to the doctor’s or hospital you should bring the bottles or containers that the substance was in.

What to expect at the doctor’s or hospital:

The staff will ask you questions like what you took, how much, where you got it, how long ago you took it, if you have taken anything else, if you have thrown up. They will also ask you about your allergies, any medications you take, and any medical problems you have.

They may have a doctor or nurse with mental health training assess you. They will ask you if you were trying to hurt yourself, if you still want to hurt yourself, if you want to hurt anybody else, if you have ever tried anything like this before.

In some cases the doctors and nurses may have you drink something called Activated Charcoal, or they may insert a tube into your stomach and suction the contents out. You may also put you on an IV drip and/or draw blood.

They may send you home that day, or you may have to stay in the hospital. Either way, you will probably have follow up visits a couple of days later wither either a doctor or a counselor or both.

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