Agency RSS

October Mental Health Memo "Opioid Overdose: A realistic danger"

Opioid Overdose:  A realistic danger


About the Author:  This month’s Mental Health Memo is a joint effort from the staff at the Human Services Center and the Department of Social Services Division of Behavioral Health.

The dangers of opioids are well documented, and lives are being lost not only in far away places but right here in South Dakota.  The statistics reflect a sobering dose of reality.


In 2021 the South Dakota Department of Health reported 43 opioid related deaths in South Dakota. Opioids such as Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Tramadol, and Methadone are commonly prescribed for chronic pain after surgery or injury.


The fact is, anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted, whether intentional or not. Being aware of the issue is important and it is necessary to know what to watch for and how to help. It could save a life.


Some symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • Small, constricted pupils
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Blue or gray lips or fingernails
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Pale, blue or cold skin
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Limp body
  • No response when you yell the person’s name or rub the middle of their chest with knuckles

If you suspect an overdose:

  • Call 911 
  • Administer naloxone
  • Follow 911 dispatcher instructions if rescue breathing or chest compressions are needed
  • Remain with the person until medical care arrives
Helping someone survive an overdose situation is one step anyone could take to help prevent overdose deaths.  Good Samaritan laws are in place in South Dakota to protect people who offer aid to those in distress. Also, naloxone is not a controlled substance, so people should not be reluctant to use it. Anyone can administer it with no medical training, and you can get naloxone from a pharmacy without a prescription. To find a participating pharmacy in your area, visit: avoidopioidsd.com.


While the dangers of opioid overdoses are real, so is our ability to learn the symptoms and be prepared if our help is needed to save a life.

For additional information on opioid use and resources for overdose prevention call South Dakota Resource Hotline 1-800-920-4343 or go to the following link https://www.avoidopioidsd.com/.


An opioid texting service is available 24/7 for free, confidential support. Text OPIOID to 898211, enter your zip code and country. The service is then customized based on your location, specific needs, and questions.                                                                                 

 To read previous editions of the Mental Health Memo visit https://dss.sd.gov/keyresources/news.aspx#mhmemo .