Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss Potentially Fatal Drug-Induced Heat Stroke During the Summer Heat  

As the temperature spikes during the hot, humid summer months, health experts warn of the significant risk for developing hyperthermia (heat stroke) from the use of certain therapeutic, recreational and illicit drugs. High doses of these drugs can cause the body to lose its ability to regulate temperature, preventing it from cooling itself down through sweating. Too often this results in serious health complications – drug-induced fever and dehydration.

“Excessive heat, combined with certain drugs like ecstasy [MDMA], cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin can be deadly,” Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also mask the symptoms of overheating. But it’s not just illicit drugs. Certain medications, like antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, and ADHD medications can also cause hyperthermia when taken during extremely hot and humid weather. When body temperatures rise to dangerous levels, the brain and body overheat resulting in an increased risk for health-related stroke or death.Think before taking drugs of any kind in the heat.”

Although it might seem that heat stroke comes on suddenly, warning signs often appear early on. Symptoms include: abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, weakness, heavy sweat or a lack of sweat, confusion, odd behavior, irritability, delusions, hallucinations, seizures and coma.

Media can reach Diane Calello at, Bruce Ruck, managing director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School at, and Lewis Nelson, medical toxicologist and chair of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School at All can be reached by contacting Alicia Gambino at or 973-972-9280.

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