Drug overdose: Definition, risks, signs, and more

which drug overdose can cause sudden death

Opioids have analgesic and sedative effects, and such medicines as morphine, codeine and fentanyl are commonly used for the management of pain. Opioid medicines methadone and buprenorphine are used for maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. After intake, opioids can cause euphoria, which is adderall xr amphetamine dextroamphetamine mixed salts one of the main reasons why they are taken for non-medical reasons. Opioids include heroin, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, methadone, tramadol, and other similar substances. Due to their pharmacological effects, they can cause difficulties with breathing, and opioid overdose can lead to death.

  1. The drug naloxone (Narcan) can also help treat an opioid overdose by blocking opioids’ effects in the body.
  2. But actioning this step didn’t consider the vast number of people already addicted, says Eggleston.
  3. WHO supports countries in their efforts to ensure rational use of opioids and  their optimal availability for medical purposes and minimization of their misuse and non-medical use.
  4. Lack of oxygen due to opioid overdose can also pave the way for a heart attack.

The severity of a drug overdose depends on the drug, the amount taken, and the physical and medical history of the person who overdosed. It can be difficult to prevent an opioid overdose because you may not know the potency of the substances you’re using. While North America currently has the highest rate of opioid overdoses in the world, opioid overdose continues to be a global issue.

To treat an opioid overdose, doctors use drugs such as naloxone, often sold as Narcan. The potent opioid blocker latches onto empty opioid receptors, preventing other opioids from triggering the cell to take actions that can shut down breathing or freeze muscles. U.S. deaths from opioid overdoses are mounting with breathtaking speed. These powerful drugs — including heroin, morphine and fentanyl — can relieve pain and evoke intense feelings of pleasure. This rise is due to the increased use of prescription narcotics as pain medication and the contamination of nonmedical opioids and other substances with highly potent opioids like fentanyl. Drug overdose is a leading cause of injury mortality in the United States.

How can a person prevent drug overdose?

Knowing your options and ways to prevent overdose can help lower your risk of opioid-related death. “If you live in one of the few areas with supervised consumption centers (also known as overdose prevention centers), then those are the safest places to use drugs,” Marino says. You also shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 or local emergency services and be honest with them about what’s happened. Information given to healthcare professional is legally protected.

which drug overdose can cause sudden death

A drug overdose is taking too much of a substance, whether it’s prescription, over-the-counter, legal, or illegal. If you’ve taken more than the recommended amount of a drug or enough to have a harmful effect on your body’s functions, you have overdosed. In a hospital setting, healthcare providers order drug tests to diagnose opioid overdose.

This is because when they’re not regulated medically, they often have varying levels of potency. They may also be combined with other substances like heroin, high-grade fentanyl, carfentanil (an extremely strong opioid used by veterinarians to treat large animals like elephants) or other unknown substances. Using unregulated opioids increases someone’s chances of overdose and death from overdose.

A person experiencing an opioid overdose needs naloxone and immediate medical care to prevent death. In 2021, 81.9% of all drug overdose deaths stemmed from opioids with synthetic fentanyl, a critical player. It can be difficult for people who use opioids or other substances to know what to expect when using nonmedical forms of opioids.

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This lack of oxygen can cause organ damage, unconsciousness, and even death. Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with opioids being the most common cause. An opioid overdose happens when opioids excessively stimulate the part of your brain that regulates breathing. This leads to respiratory depression (ineffective breathing) and can cause death if it isn’t treated in time. For every drug overdose that results in death, there are many more nonfatal overdoses, each one with its own emotional and economic toll. This fast-moving epidemic does not distinguish among age, sex, or state or county lines.

which drug overdose can cause sudden death

Access to naloxone is generally limited to health professionals. In many countries there is still limited availability of naloxone even in medical settings, including in ambulances. On the other hand, some countries have already made naloxone available in pharmacies without prescription.

Opioids present in many deaths involving other drugs

They may perform other forms of medical care other than naloxone, such as intubation to help with breathing. A person can still experience the effects of an overdose after a dose of naloxone wears off. Because of this, it’s essential to call 911 for the person so they can get immediate medical care. Fentanyl is an opioid that’s 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. People who make heroin often add nonmedical fentanyl to it to increase its potency (strength).

WHO also issues normative guidance to promote the appropriate use of opioids for pain and palliative care. Appropriate use and regulation of opioid analgesics ensures that they are available where needed whilst preventing their diversion and harm related to misuse. Only half of countries provide access to effective treatment options for opioid dependence and less than 10% of people worldwide in need of such treatment are receiving it (5).

It’s important to receive training on how and when to use naloxone. Of the pharmaceutical-related deaths from overdose, 74.3% were unintentional and 17.1% were intentional (suicides), while 8.4% were of “undetermined intent”. But “just because someone’s having an overdose doesn’t mean that’s the end,” says Eggleston. Naloxone nasal sprays, which reverse the effects of the overdose, can be purchased over the counter (OTC) and kept on hand in case of emergencies. If someone you know misuses opioids, ensure you’re a nonjudgmental party they can come to for assistance, suggests Marino. In the United States, most states also have “Good Samaritan Laws” that protect you from legal recourse when trying to save someone’s life.

When opioid levels are too high, they essentially send a signal to the brain to stop breathing, which, if left untreated, can lead to a person falling unconscious and potentially dying. Hidden in these national statistics are stories of individual people. Researchers alcoholics anonymous are still struggling to understand how lifestyle factors, such as prior drug use and stress, as well as genetics and other risk factors, might make people more likely to overdose on these deadly drugs. Taking too many pills may lead to an overdose in some people.

Overdosing on a stimulant such as cocaine increases heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. This type of overdose can cause heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. are toads poisonous to humans vet-approved safety facts and faq People can also die from opioid overdose when they (knowingly or unknowingly) use an opioid in combination with another substance, such as a sedative or stimulant.

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