Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board

CONTACT INFORMATION: Emergency - 703-573-5679 / Detox - 703-502-7000 (24/7)
703-383-8500 TTY 711
8221 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
Daryl Washington
Executive Director

What To Do When a Loved One Overdoses


Signs of an Opioid Overdose

  • Shallow breathing or not breathing at all
  • Snoring or gurgling sounds (this can mean that a person’s airway is partly blocked)
  • Slow or no heart rate and/or pulse
  • Face is pale or clammy
  • Bluish purple, or ashen skin color
  • Fingernails turn blue or blue-black
  • Floppy arms and legs
  • No response to stimulus
  • Disorientation
  • Unrousable (can’t be woken up)/unconscious

THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Get help if you encounter someone with these symptoms.


If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they are asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Action taken in those hours could save a life.

Overdose Dos and Don’ts

Opioids include: heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, fentanyl, morphine and prescription pain relievers.

An overdose of heroin or opioid painkillers can be lethal. Know what to do in case someone you are with overdoses.


  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Stay with the person.
  • If naloxone (sometimes known by the brand name Narcan) is available and you've been trained to use it, do so. If it's available and you haven't been trained, let the 911 operator know you have it available and ask for instructions.
    • Naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.


  • Apply "old school" remedies that do not work such as putting the person in a cold bath or becoming physical with them (i.e., kicking, slapping, or punching the individual).
  • Inject them with salt water or stimulant drugs (methamphetamine).
  • Have them walk it off.
  • Sleep it off.
  • Induce vomiting.

Will I get in trouble?

  • Virginia law provides anyone who calls 911 or otherwise alerts the authorities in the case of an overdose a "safe harbor" affirmative defense.
  • Virginia law provides immunity for anyone who administers naloxone in good faith.

Disclaimer: These videos have been made available for informational and educational purposes only. Viewing these videos does not automatically make you eligible to receive naloxone.

If you would like to receive opioid overdose response instruction, you can register to take the free CSB Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education training (REVIVE! kit training). Upon completion of that CSB training, residents of Fairfax County and the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church are eligible to receive a free box of naloxone.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant