How Long Does it Take to Recover From an Overdose

A drug overdose happens when someone consumes too much of a drug, whether this is prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, or illicit substances. Fatal overdoses can occur, but with the proper medical attention and support, people are often able to survive an overdose.

If you or a loved one are using drugs, you may be worried about the risk of an overdose and what you can do to help. If you are concerned, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. This post will explore some commonly used drugs, their overdose symptoms, and how long it takes to recover from the overdose.

Symptoms of An Overdose

In 2020 alone, according to the National Institute of Health, over 90,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States. Non-fatal overdoses are even more common; knowing what to expect when an overdose occurs may help save a life.

Different drugs, how much is taken, and how they are taken determine the extent of the overdose symptoms. For example, when a drug is taken in pill form, the chemicals are released more slowly into the body compared to when a drug is injected. This means it is easier to take too much of something when injected, increasing the risk of an overdose.

Alcohol overdose

An alcohol overdose, also known as alcohol poisoning, results from alcohol abuse. An overdose depends on many things, such as body weight, tolerance, and gender. Some symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Low body temperature

Opioid overdose

An opioid overdose can occur from both illegally produced substances and prescription opioids. Illegal opioids, including heroin or synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and prescription opioids, like hydrocodone, are highly addictive and have a high overdose rate. Many opioids suppress the respiratory system. During an overdose, a person suffers a failure to breathe, also known as respiratory depression. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of conciseness
  • Breathing difficulties, e.g., labored breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Delirium
  • Clammy skin

Prescription drugs

Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that are taken for their calming effects. They act as central nervous system depressants that slow activity in the brain. Xanax, Valium, and Ambien are all examples of benzodiazepines. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Breathing troubles
  • Coma

Stimulant overdose

Stimulants such as cocaine are highly addictive. Cocaine is often taken on binges, making an overdose more likely to occur. Symptoms of a stimulant overdose include:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia
  • Extreme anxiety

A drug overdose can occur if a person takes two or more illicit substances, also known as polydrug use. Mixing drugs can be extremely harmful as the effects of the combination of different drugs can be unpredictable, more potent, and sometimes deadly. Benzodiazepine-related overdoses often involve the use of prescription medication alongside opioids.

If you are concerned that someone may be overdosing, you must immediately seek assistance from a medical professional.

How Long do Overdose Symptoms Last?

The length of a drug overdose heavily depends on how quickly medical attention is received, and it can be a life or death situation. For example, if someone is experiencing an opioid overdose, administration of Naloxone can reverse the effects.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Drug Overdoses?

The length of time it takes to recover from an overdose can vary as there can be short-term and long-term effects. Ultimately, three key factors influence how long it will take for a person to recover from an overdose, these are:

  1. The dosage: Stronger doses of drugs can cause symptoms to occur faster and last longer.
  2. Type of drug: The type of drug used heavily influences how long it takes to recover. Some drugs may cause semi-permanent damage, such as liver damage or a brain injury.
  3. History of abuse: If someone has a history of substance abuse, the overdose may have occurred due to the consumption of one or more drugs at the same time. This causes more severe overdose symptoms and makes the recovery process longer.

What to do if You Witness a Drug Overdose?

If you believe you are witnessing someone overdose, you must consider it a medical emergency and immediately seek medical attention, no matter how severe you think the symptoms may be. Symptoms of a drug overdose can last from minutes to hours, but all can be fatal.

Many people fear seeking medical attention for an overdose in case of legal consequences. To encourage people to seek medical attention when witnessing or experiencing an overdose, 40 states now practice a Good Samaritan Law. This ensures that the people reporting the overdose are free from being arrested, charged, or prosecuted. Do not hesitate to call for emergency help if you think someone is overdosing. This is a potentially life-saving call or something that could prevent the person from experiencing long-term negative symptoms.

When waiting for emergency help, address immediate needs and medical issues. An emergency operator will most likely give you instructions to follow until somebody arrives. These may include:

  • Do not leave the person who is overdosing alone
  • Check pulse for slowed or increased heart rate
  • Attempt to keep them awake
  • Prevent them from losing consciousness
  • If they are seizing (experiencing seizure), ensure the area is cleared of things on which they may injure themselves
  • Keep their temperature down

Drug Overdose Treatment

After an overdose, it is essential to treat urgent medical issues that may have arisen due to the incident. Check for memory loss, abnormal vital signs, gastrointestinal problems, and any other physical problems that may require medical care.

If an overdose is intentional, the person will receive a mental health evaluation to see if psychiatric care is necessary. If a person is a danger to themselves, some treatment providers can request that they are committed to treatment. After a medical professional has assessed the person, they may evaluate them for a substance use disorder to determine whether substance abuse treatment is appropriate.

Although it can occur the first time using a drug, overdose is more typically the outcome of a substance use disorder. The most effective way to deal with this is through substance abuse treatment, where a person receives ongoing medical care. Discuss all options when receiving professional help to determine what options are best suited for you.

Substance Abuse Treatment

The most effective substance abuse treatment options include behavioral therapy and addiction medicine.

When first contacting treatment programs, a patient will complete an intake interview to help determine what treatment is best suited and assist in creating an individualized treatment plan.

Medical detox is first undergone; this can occur before attending. However, most treatment centers provide a medical detox program.

Several different forms of therapy and care can be used throughout the recovery journey. The main goal of any addiction treatment is to deal with any substance abuse problems or mental health issues that may be present and to aid patients in overcoming cravings, avoiding relapses, and to assist them in remaining sober throughout their recovery.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a proven clinically effective substance abuse treatment typically combined with behavioral therapy. Providers use FDA-approved medications that help treat overdose symptoms, control withdrawal, and reduce cravings to prevent a relapse.

At the end of most treatment programs, patients will have discussed aftercare plans to ensure that the progress made within treatment is continued throughout the recovery journey.

Contact us

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, do not wait for an overdose. A range of treatment options can aid you in your recovery.

NPAC is a leading addiction center that offers clients compassionate and expert staff who uphold clinical excellence.

We understand each individual’s unique recovery journey and will work with you to determine which treatment options are best suited. We combine FDA-approved medication with specialized therapeutic techniques to assist you in a successful and happy recovery.

Contact NPAC today to discuss how treatment programs could work for you.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner


As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns


Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine