How to Support Someone After an Overdose

Surviving an overdose is a traumatic experience for both the victim and the people close to them. In such a difficult situation, it’s crucial to provide your loved one with the support they need on their journey toward recovery. Luckily, there are many ways you can show someone in your life who’s struggling with addiction that you’re there to help them. Recovery is a journey that must be taken one step at a time, and every bit of support you offer can make all the difference.

If you’re wondering where to turn after your loved one suffers an opioid overdose, we’re here to help. Here are some ways you can support someone after an overdose and help give them the courage to embark on the road to recovery.

Setting Boundaries

After surviving an overdose, many people are left feeling overwhelmed and afraid. The mere thought of going through the recovery process can be daunting to them. They might also attempt to relieve their guilt by being overly involved in the lives of those closest to them. Inadvertent manipulation could be used as a way to work through their feelings. It’s difficult to see the people close to them suffer as a result of their drug addiction.

If you find yourself in that group, allow yourself the time and space you need to process your own emotions. Learning someone close to you has overdosed can be equally overwhelming. You might be frightened, angry, defeated or confused—or possibly a mix of all these. Feeling this way is quite normal. Although it’s an immense relief to know your loved one survived, the road ahead can still seem riddled with uncertainty.

Don’t be afraid to step away and take an emotional break. This will ensure you are giving of your best self when helping your loved one. It’s okay to seek support from others while going through such a trying time, so feel free to reach out to others who have walked this road to help you cope.

Providing Emotional Support

Once you’ve given yourself adequate time to process everything you’re feeling, it’s important to remember your loved one is in a time of need as well. You’re capable of making a significant difference in your friend or family member’s path to recovery. Providing the necessary emotional support is one of your most important roles as someone close to the overdose victim.

A critical component of this support is establishing trust. This can be a very difficult step if your loved one has already betrayed yours. For example, some don’t even know the person in their life has been abusing drugs until they learn of the overdose. Regardless of where you stand with your loved one in terms of trust, it’s more crucial than ever to reestablish a trusting relationship with them after an overdose. There must be a mutual understanding of the responsibilities on both sides in order to begin moving forward.

Effective communication can also help you foster a positive relationship with someone living with addiction. Try to adopt an empathetic tone when communicating with your loved one. Many people who deal with substance abuse feel like no one understands them, or they’re alone in their struggles. By showing you understand how difficult it must be to live with addiction, you open the door for a more meaningful connection.

Because seeking help is a tough decision to make, it’s important to let your loved one know you’re prepared to support them in any way you can. Even something as simple as offering to drive their kids to school while they’re in treatment shows you’re making an effort to be part of the solution, and you’re there to support them.

Exploring Treatment Options

Once your loved one is ready to consider seeking help, take the time to look into treatment options for them. In most cases, the recovery plan for an overdose survivor begins in the hospital and ends in an outpatient treatment center. Before beginning outpatient care, though, a survivor must complete a detox program to ensure their system is clear of all substances.

Here is a closer look at these two types of treatment and what they entail.


A detox program aims to completely purge the system of any traces of drugs or alcohol. This process is also known as Acute Treatment Services (ATS), and it’s especially crucial when a patient has just suffered an overdose. Clearing the body of toxic substances is necessary in order to begin Clinical Stabilization Services (CSS). This might include counseling on addiction, relapse prevention, and a plan for aftercare which helps ease the transition to an outpatient treatment program.

Undergoing detox in Massachusetts under the care of specialists is essential to a safe recovery. Withdrawal can be extremely painful and dangerous when done on one’s own. Only trained professionals know how to rid the body of harmful substances in a safe, controlled manner. Addiction experts can also provide any vital resources throughout the detox process, such as medication or therapy, as needed.

Outpatient Treatment

There is a greater degree of flexibility with outpatient treatment programs compared to inpatient residential treatment options. The main difference is outpatient treatment is a part-time commitment which allows patients to fulfill their work or school obligations while seeking help. Because outpatient plans tend to be less restrictive, they offer more freedom to patients.

The two types of outpatient care are partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient (IOP) care. Those struggling with a more severe level of addiction may benefit from PHP as opposed to IOP treatment. Be sure to carefully consider both of these options to ensure you make the best decision for your loved one.

Understanding Relapse Prevention

Patients who have overdosed are at a high risk of overdosing a second time. This is a hard truth to face. It’s more important than ever to be there for your loved one to minimize the risk of relapse. Learning about their triggers and promoting a safe, trigger-free environment can make it easier for them to resist the urge to relapse. Be sure to check in with your loved one on a regular basis to make sure they’re practicing basic self-care, such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.

It’s vital to be prepared in case of another emergency. Make sure you always have access to naloxone, a lifesaving medication that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. In addition, know the signs of an overdose and be able to recognize them if they appear. It can be scary to think about preparing for another medical emergency, but it’s necessary to keep the people you love safe.

Taking the First Step

When your loved one is ready to begin the journey toward recovery, our experts are equipped to provide them with the support they need to overcome addiction. Whether they’re struggling with fentanyl addiction or a different form of substance abuse, we will create a custom-tailored treatment program to meet their individual needs. From detox in Massachusetts to outpatient treatment, we design every step of the recovery process with each patient’s goals in mind.

More from the Blog

Signs of Addiction to Prescription Drugs

Signs of Addiction to Prescription Drugs

Identifying the signs of addiction to prescription drugs is the first step to confronting this silent threat. Whether it’s unexpected mood swings or a sudden reliance on higher doses, this article lays out the stark indicators for those worried about themselves or a...