An overdose describes any use of a drug in excess of the normal or recommended dose of the drug. Although it often refers to a situation where a person using recreational drugs takes enough of the drug to have a serious adverse effect, it can even refer to pharmaceuticals that are accidentally or deliberately administered.
Drug overdose is a common way to attempt suicide, but most overdoses are due to reckless use of a recreational drug. Children are particularly acceptable to accidental overdoses (such as the patient Jona who overdosed on iron in children's vitamins).
Doctors use a set of seven measures, and whether they are higher or lower than normal, to determine if a patient has overdosed and the likely cause of the overdose - blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, pupil size, bowel sounds and sweating. Alcohol, opiates, and stimulants like cocaine are the most common cause of overdose.
Treatment of an overdose depends on the drug involved. For example, naloxone is the standard treatment for an opiate overdose and has a near instant effect. Activated charcoal can be used to absorb drugs that are still in the digestive tract. However, the standard treatment is "ABC", make sure the Airway is clear, make sure the patient is able to Breathe (often on a ventilator if necessary), and make sure the blood keeps Circulating. Overdose patients are also at risk for shock.