dose of marijuana, measurable physical effects
reach a maximum within 1/2 hour and disappear
in 3 to 5 hours.
The physical symptoms of Cannabis (mari-
juana) abuse include dryness of the mouth, irrita-
tion of the throat, bloodshot eyes, increased
appetite, dizziness or sleepiness, and, in heavy
smokers, a cough.
Adverse reactions to the drug include anxiety,
fear, drying, depression, suspicion, delusions,
and, in rare cases, hallucinations.
Although marijuana can produce psycho-
logical dependence, there is no evidence of
physical dependence; therefore, there are usually
no withdrawal symptoms following its
Handling Drug-Intoxicated Persons
As in any emergency medical situation,
priorities of care must be established. Conditions
involving respiratory or cardiac failure must
receive immediate attention before specific action
is directed to the drug abuse symptom. General
priorities of care are outlined below.
Check for adequacy of airway, breathing,
and circulation, and for shock. Give ap-
Keep the victim awake.
If the victim is sleepy or poorly responding
to pain, stimulate by using cold wet towels,
gentle shaking, conversation, and moving
If the victim cannot be aroused, place him
or her on his or her side so secretions and
vomitus will drain from the mouth and not
be aspirated into the lungs.
Induce vomiting if the victim is conscious
and the drug was taken orally.
Prevent the victim from self-injury while
highly excited or lacking coordination. Use
physical restraints only if absolutely
Calm and reassure the excited victim by
talking him or her down in a quiet,
relaxed, and sympathetic manner.
Gather materials and information to assist
in identifying and treating the suspected
drug problem. Spoons, paper sacks, eye
droppers, hypodermic needles, vials, or
collapsible tubes are excellent identifica-
The presence of capsules, pills, drug con-
tainers, or needle marks (tracks) on the vic-
tims body are also significant.
A personal history of drug use from the
victim or those accompanying the victim
is very important and may reveal how long
the victim has been abusing drugs, approx-
imate amounts taken, and time between
doses. Also, knowledge of past medical
problems, including history of convulsion
(with or without drugs) is important.
Transport the victim and the materials col-
lected to a medical treatment facility.
Brief medical facility personnel and pre-
sent the materials collected at the scene
upon arrival at the medical treatment
Under the broad category of environmental
injuries, we will consider a number of first aid
problems. Exposure to extremes of temperature,
Figure 4-71.Classification of burns.