A drug overdose takes place when an individual exceeds the medically recommended dose. Taking more than the limit can be toxic to a person and may lead to serious health and life threats. However, people have different levels of sensitivity to the different drugs or medications they ingest and even regular doses may affect their bodies negatively. 

Overdose in illegal drugs that are used for recreation and for getting high occurs when the amount of drug a person has taken is too much for his/her metabolism that it cannot detoxify before it causes negative side effects.

Although the first thing that comes to mind for many people is drug overdose from illicit drugs, it is also most common in children as young as five years old.

Drug Overdose Causes

An overdose can happen accidentally or intentionally. Here are some risk factors that may cause an overdose:


Storing drugs improperly

This is why drug overdose is common among children. Children tend to put anything inside their mouth and unknowingly ingest drugs that cause an overdose for them.

Dosage instructions are overlooked

Not following the instructions or mistaking dosages on medication can cause an accidental overdose for people of all ages. This can also occur when people take too much of a medication without knowing the limit of its dosage.



When someone suffers from substance abuse, the risk of an overdose would be painstakingly high. Intentional use of prescription drugs in high amounts is a sign of addiction that would cause an overdose. Substance abuse or addiction is what causes a Xanax overdose, one of the most common depressants used worldwide.

Mental Health Issues

Different kinds of mental disorders can cause drug overdose. These disorders include depression, anxiety, and the like which can lead to suicidal thoughts that make an individual intentionally take in dosage amounts exceeding what one’s metabolism can detoxify.

Some risk factors on people who have a history or are currently suffering from substance abuse are:

  1. Trying to abstain from drug abuse but continuing it later may cause tendencies for a person to take in too much to compensate for the struggle of abstinence.
  2. A person may unnoticeably start increasing his or her dose in small percentages every time until it reaches an overdose limit.
  3.  Prior overdoses can also be a risk factor as one may think that he/she may survive or recover from another overdose as he/she did with the previous one.
  4. Withdrawals from drugs may also result in an overdose when the struggle may become too difficult for people who suffer addiction. The temptation of taking these drugs may become stronger than ever for them.
  5. Refusing to seek medical help on one’s addiction may lead to an overdose in the future.
  6. Also, mental health issues that are left unaddressed can be one of the biggest risk factors for an overdose. People who have a history of harming oneself and having suicide attempts must be closely watched and safeguarded from dangerous substances and any event, place, or conversation that may trigger unwanted thoughts.