Most fatal cases of drug overdose in the United States result from drug poisoning. This happens when a person’s exposure to a natural or man made substance has an undesirable effect. Unintentional heroin poisoning (‘accidental overdose’) includes heroin overdoses resulting from misuse of the drug, drug abuse or taking too much while taking other drugs. Find out more about why heroin is so dangerous.

Heroin Doses

Significant tolerance to respiratory depression can develop quickly with continued use of heroin. There is no dose that is safe of the drug but taking too much can lead to an overdose. Depending on drug interactions and other factors, death from overdose can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours. Illicit heroin, sold on the street, can be unpredictable in terms of purity and what is contained in the drug. Heroin seized at the borders are much higher in purity but variations can lead to other drugs being mixed in for a lethal cocktail. Tolerance builds over time and, if this occurs, the individual may experience greater effects of the drug resulting in an overdose.

Overdose Complications

A heroin overdose can have serious complications for the body. Some of the most serious of these may include:

  • Airway and lungs
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat including dry mouth
  • Nails and lips turning blue
  • Stomach and intestinal upset including constipation and spasms


The overall prognosis for a heroin overdose is that skin popping may manifest in abscesses along with direct injection problems such as hepatitis C and HIV infection. A heroin overdose is immediately reversible with an opioid antagonist injection and recovery usually happens within 24 to 48 hours. Heroin may be mixed with other substances which can cause additional symptoms and organ damage. The overdose death rate is high but there are ways to prevent it from happening.


If you think you have a problem with heroin or other drugs, it is best to seek help from trained professionals who can help you. Cypress is here to help you explore all the options for treatment and recovery. We will help you focus on building a treatment plan that will develop your mind, body, and spirit. Call us to get started: 866-217-2636