First Aid for Recreational Drug-Induced Seizure

Drug Induced Seizures

Illicit drug use disorder is a serious condition that affected 38% of U.S. adults in 2017. In our article ‘Addiction & Recovery Perspectives: Love is a Drug’ we described addiction as something that manifests differently per person, making it difficult to identify if someone is at risk. Knowing how to deal with the effects of recreational drugs however is important, especially in life-or-death situations like drug-induced seizures.

We’ll be discussing basic first aid techniques for anyone who finds themselves in this scenario.


Healthline details that the common symptoms of a seizure are loss of consciousness, loss of awareness, uncontrollable muscle movements, and shifts in sensory perception. Some of the warning signs to look out for before a seizure happens is if the victim experiences nausea, dizziness and visual changes like flashing lights or spots.

First-aid methods

What are the first things you need to do when you’re near someone who has a recreational drug-induced seizure?

  1. Clear the way. Ensure that no hard or sharp objects are near the victim.
  2. Remember not to hold down the victim or restrict their movements.
  3. Place them on their side to help clear their airway.
  4. Don’t put anything in their mouth. If the seizure happens when they’re eating, ensure food doesn’t block the passage of air.
  5. If you can, be aware of the length of the seizure by timing it.

Calling emergency services

Not all seizures require you to call an ambulance right away. However, here are some of the reasons to call an ambulance immediately if someone has a drug-induced seizure:

  1. If you know nothing of the person’s medical history.
  2. If it’s their first time having a seizure.
  3. If the seizure lasts for more than five minutes.
  4. If the person’s breathing becomes difficult or they look like they’re choking.
  5. If an injury happens during the seizure.
  6. If the person isn’t responsive after a seizure.

Post-seizure treatment

Again, it’s important to check if a person is responsive after a seizure. You can do this through the following:

  1. Make sure they’re awake and breathing normally.
  2. Check that they can talk or can communicate in some way.
  3. Confirm they can answer the four W’s: who, what, when and where.

Don’t leave them alone until they’ve completed all of these steps.


There are many ways to prevent recreational drug-induced seizures, one of which includes health education and care from compassionate professionals, which is what nursing practitioners are specifically trained to do. Chen et al. notes that healthcare professionals play a vital role in caring for people with addictions. If you know someone who suffers from addiction, you should try to get them to seek professional help.

However, prevention also has to start at home due to how much the U.S healthcare industry is currently stretched. In their outlook of the U.S healthcare industry, Maryville University estimates that the nation will be short 100,000 family medicine doctors by 2025. Coupled with the fact that the university also notes that nurse practitioners in America receive 916 million visits from patients on an annual basis, it is clear that help also needs to come from outside healthcare facilities. This is why it is important for family and friends to understand how to help those suffering from addiction. Very Well Mind explains the importance of listening to someone with addiction problems, as this is the best way to get them to talk about the root of the problem. Prevention can only happen with understanding.

If you ever find yourself in a situation with someone having a drug-induced seizure we hope this article will help. If you know someone suffering from addiction, don’t be afraid to call a professional helpline.

Article written only for
By Michelle Robins