overdose on opioids treatment

What Happens When You Overdose on Opioids?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

In the United States, opioids abuse has become a major national crisis; statistics indicate. In 2016 alone, nearly 64,000 Americans died from overdoses than any other year on record. The National Institute on Drug Abuse then reported that more than 90 individuals die every day resulting from an opioid overdose in the US. In 2017, opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency by the Trump government.

The Risk of Abusing Opioids

One of the top reasons patients seek medical care is pain. Pain can be relieved through so many ways, one of which is through taking opiates. For close to 70 years, these have been considered safe and have been recommended for analgesia. In the last two decades, many concerns were raised concerning their safety.

In almost every state in the US, cases of toxicity and overdose have been continually reported. Also referred to as narcotics, opioids come in the form of strong pain relievers including hydrocodone, tramadol, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Heroin, which is an illegal drug is also under the category of opioids.

If you have had major surgery, injury, or chronic pain from cancer, your doctor may prescribe opiates for pain relief. Some of the reported side effects include mental fog, drowsiness, constipation, and nausea.

Because they affect the part of the brain that controls breathing, slow breathing may also result, which might lead to depression and overdose death. These are the signs which call for medical emergency:

  • The body goes limp
  • The face becomes extremely pale
  • The lips or fingernails have a purple color
  • They begin to vomit or make gurgling noises
  • Unable to speak or wake up
  • The heartbeat slows down or stops

Dependence and addiction are the other risks of using opioids. Dependence is more about the feeling of withdrawal when the drug has not been taken.

If you abuse the drugs, the risk of dependence and addiction becomes higher. Addiction is taking the drugs where there is no painful medical condition, taking them differently than advised by your doctor, or simply taking the drugs to get high.

In the US, there is also the problem of expectant women abusing opioids. This can cause the fetus to be addicted and experience withdrawal symptoms referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome. The abuse of narcotics can quickly graduate to the use of heroin.

What Are the Risk Factors for Opioid Overdose?

If you are dependent on opioids, you are more likely to suffer from an overdose. Deaths resulting from an overdose among people dependent on opioids are estimated at 0.65 percent annually. The following are the people at a higher risk of suffering from an opioid overdose.

  • People dependent on opioids
  • People using prescription opioids
  • Those who use opioids together with sedating substances
  • People who illegally use them and have a medical condition such as lung disease or HIV
  • Close relatives and friends in contact with the person overdosing or in possession of their drugs including those prescribed

The risk factors for overdosing prescribed opioids include high doses, a history of substance or alcohol abuse, older age, male gender, low socioeconomic status, and mental health. Get help before it is too late.

Why Emergency Response Is Needed

Death resulting from the abuse of narcotics can be prevented through basic and timely support. The person affected should receive opioid antagonist naloxone to reverse the effects of the substance.

Since this problem is mostly witnessed by relatives and friends, they should get the prescription urgently from a medical facility to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. However, this should not be seen as a replacement for thorough medical care.

Prevent Opioid Overdose With Help From First Steps Recovery 

If you suspect an overdose, it is vitally crucial that you seek emergency medical help. Individuals who survive an opioid overdose need to find help as soon as possible. Inpatient rehabilitation programs and intensive outpatient programs are very effective and can offer oversight during withdrawal.

First Steps Recovery is an addiction treatment center in the Fresno County, California dedicated to offering comprehensive addiction treatment and credible information about the realities of alcohol and drug addiction. If you or a loved one is affected, call us today for help.

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