Can You Overdose on Prescription Painkillers?

Every drug or medication poses some risk of side effects. In some cases, drug use can lead to more serious outcomes, like an overdose. People may think that prescription medications are safer as they come from a doctor. However, when overdose directions are not followed closely, prescription medications can be just as dangerous.

What Causes an Overdose?

When taken incorrectly, prescription painkillers can cause overdose. Prescription painkillers include opioid or narcotic pain relief medications. This includes drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and methadone. In the United States, prescription painkiller overdose is now considered a crisis. Drug overdose is the highest cause of unintentional death. It can be helpful to understand what an overdose is and how it can happen.

Prescription painkillers can be highly addictive. This makes them high-risk for overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 54 million Americans have used prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes. Unsupervised non-medical prescription painkiller use is what can lead to addiction and overdose.

Prescription painkillers can lead to a feeling of euphoria or a high. Over time, a person builds tolerance to the drug. This means that it takes more of the drug to feel its effects. The need to keep taking more and more of the painkiller is what can lead a person to an overdose.

When a person experiences overdose, their brain and body functions are overwhelmed and shut down. Neurological signals become suppressed. This slows or interrupts respiratory and circulatory functions. Cardiac arrest could occur as heart and lung functions are stopped. Other functions then suffer due to a lack of oxygen. Organs deprived of oxygen become damaged. The lack of oxygen then leads to seizures or irreversible brain damage.

Signs and Symptoms of Painkiller Overdose

Knowing the signs and symptoms of painkiller overdose can help observers know when to get help. Call 911 immediately if someone is experiencing any of these symptoms. Getting emergency care quickly can be the difference between life and death. These medical professionals can administer naloxone. Naloxone is a life-saving drug that can reverse overdose effects.

Observable Signs of Overdose

  • Blue or grey lips
  • Blue or grey nails
  • Cold, clammy, pale skin
  • Gurgling sounds that may sound like snoring
  • Limp body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slow or absent breathing due to depressed respiration
  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Tiny or pinpoint pupils
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Vomiting
  • Weak pulse or hypotension

Not all overdose symptoms are visible. Other symptoms of overdose can include the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Lack of self-awareness
  • Overheating
  • Severe Headaches

 

If you or someone you know are experiencing any overdose symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. Painkiller addiction can be fatal, but treatment can help prevent this. If you or a loved one are struggling with painkiller use or addition, seek the guidance of an addition specialist or doctor. These professionals can provide life changing guidance and a customized treatment plan. With effort, support, and a treatment plan, a person can overcome addiction and lead a healthy, successful life. Recovery is absolutely possible, especially when a person takes the first step of asking for help. Call Silver Pines Treatment Center today to get the help you or your loved one deserve.

Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/prescriptionpainkilleroverdoses/index.html

https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/opioids

https://apibhs.com/2018/05/21/what-happens-when-you-overdose-on-painkillers

https://drugabuse.com/prescription-opiates/painkiller-overdose/