Drug overdoses tend to be thought of as something that only happens to addicts of street drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. The frightening truth is that far more fatal drug overdoses occur as the result of taking prescriptions medicines incorrectly. The rise in the number of people taking medication compared to 20 to 30 years ago is largely responsible for this worrying trend, so it is essential to ensure that you are taking your medicines correctly to avoid an accidental fatality.


Getting your Dosage Wrong

It seems like common sense, but there are a large number of people who do not take their prescribed medicines in the correct way. The reasons for this are almost as varied as the amount of different ailments that these drugs are prescribed to treat. Increasingly, there people who are prescribed medication to enable them to cope with painful and debilitating conditions. Often these drugs are essential to help them maintain a decent quality of life and to enable them to continue with their work and leisure activities.


The problem with pain medication in particular is the fact that it can be difficult to remember when the last dose was taken, especially if the condition is chronic and the drugs aren’t providing enough relief from the pain. It is really easy in these circumstances to forget that you have taken your pills already, or to lose track of time and take a second dose far too early. These kinds of circumstances can lead to a fatal overdose as the drugs accumulate in your system.


Preventing Overdoses

One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from taking an accidental overdose is to be meticulous about recording when you have taken your pills. If you get into the habit of writing down the exact time you took your medication, an overdose is far less likely to happen. It also provides an accurate record of exactly how much and what you have taken should there be a medical emergency.


It can also be worth checking with your prescription issuer to see that you are not taking too much medication. One of the main pharmacist jobs is to ensure that drugs are being taken correctly and they will be able to check back through your records to make sure that you are not getting through a larger amount of medicine than is safe for your condition. If you are taking a higher dose than is recommended, it is essential that you go back to your doctor in order to have your prescription reviewed.


Keeping Other People Safe

For many people it is not their own prescriptions that might cause a problem. If you have a child or elderly relative in your care, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are also taking medicines correctly in order to avoid an accidental overdose.



Children should be monitored carefully and, if possible, should have their medication regulated by a responsible adult to ensure that they are not taking too much. For older children who medicate themselves, regularly check how much medicine they are using and keep watch for early warning signs such as nausea, dizziness and heart symptoms.


With elderly relatives, help them keep track with a daily pill dispenser and check up on them to ensure they are taking the recommended doses. It just takes a bit of extra vigilance to minimise the risk of an accidental overdose.