To some degree, everyone has a basic understanding of the dangers of abusing drugs. Even drug users get that what they’re doing comes with incredible downside risk.
Among the dangers that don’t get discussed often is nodding off due to drugs; something that can seem almost innocent at first blush and certainly not always outwardly scary but is in actuality quite serious and hazardous.
What Does Nodding off Due to Drugs Mean?
On a basic level, nodding off or nodding out as it’s sometimes referred to is drifting in and out of consciousness after using drugs. It generally looks like a person has fallen asleep or is on the verge of falling asleep.
Given the innocuous nature of it, it doesn’t sound too intense. Almost like a nap, just drifting away in a lecture or while watching a boring movie.
But let’s dig into it further.
Nodding off means a loss of consciousness. It means mental capacity evaporates. Control of the body is gone. It can last minutes or hours, there’s no set time. It can happen anywhere a person uses drugs.
Critically, it’s not boredom-induced, it’s drug-induced.
If you take drugs just before driving, for example, and you nod off, it can be absolutely catastrophic. Even if you’re on solid ground, a nod out can cause you to collapse and injure yourself. You can nod off with a needle still in your arm, lying there limp and knocked out.
What causes this to happen though?
The answer relates to the types of drugs that lead to a nod out.
What Kind of Drugs Make Someone ‘Nod Off’?
It’s always opioids it seems.
While not the sole drug class that will make a person nod off, the problem is most commonly associated with opioids and in particular, heroin. You’ve probably even seen it dramatized in TV and movies with a person passed out in an alleyway, or something to that effect, after injecting heroin.
There’s a good reason nodding off is generally tied to an injection though; the quickest way to have the drug take effect is by putting it straight into the bloodstream, a direct one-way ticket to the brain.
The reason a person nods off and is overtaken by this extreme drowsiness is because of the rush of heroin infiltrating their head. Opioids, heroin being an illicit one, are a type of central nervous system depressants and come with a sensation of euphoria and deep relaxation so when you flood your brain with them it overwhelms it.
Nodding off becomes increasingly dangerous as your tolerance for opioids increases because you’ll have to take ever-increasing amounts to get the same high as the last time. Constantly nodding out then becomes a clear sign of addiction and a grim signpost en route to a possible overdose.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note, “nearly 130,000 people died from overdoses related to heroin from 1999-2019”.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) added that “in 2019, 19.8% of drug overdose deaths involved heroin”.
Expanding that out further to all opioids, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) points out the stark reality; “more than 760,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid”.
Is it Dangerous to Nod Off on Drugs?
Yes, nodding off on drugs is dangerous and can be a sign of a severe issue such as an overdose or a substance use disorder. When someone nods off on drugs, it indicates a compromised state of consciousness and heightened risk of respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening.
Seeking treatment in a rehab facility is crucial for individuals experiencing such symptoms. In a rehab setting, professionals can assess the severity of the drug use, provide medical intervention if necessary, and design a tailored treatment plan to address the underlying issues. Treatment in rehab typically includes detoxification, therapy, counseling, and support to help individuals overcome substance abuse and achieve lasting recovery. It’s essential to prioritize seeking professional help promptly to address the potential dangers associated with nodding off on drugs.
How to Get Help With Addiction Today
If you or someone you love is struggling with a heroin addiction, seeking help is among the best things you can do. As we’ve all become well aware over the past couple of decades, beating opioids is tough.
At Principles Recovery Center we have over 30 years of experience successfully getting folks through it though.
Reach out to us today to learn more about the dangers of nodding off and how our substance abuse programs can help.