Opioid Overdose – Symptoms, Lethal Dosage, and Treatments

Opioid Overdose Treatment

When people think about addictive drugs, they often think of Marijuana or Cocaine. Rarely does anyone consider the prescription painkiller; or Opioid, to give it its technical name. In fact, Opioid withdrawal is one of the most challenging withdrawals to go through. It is considered even more challenging to overcome than Heroin. This is down to the addiction having both short-term and long-term effects on both the mind and the body of the user. So what are Opioid drugs, what types of them exist, and what effects can they have when mistreated?

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What are the Types of Opioids?

Opioid Overdose

Opioids are painkilling drugs which target the neurotransmitters and nerves in your brain, affecting how you feel. For this reason, they have commonly used medications to numb pain and even help when undergoing medical operations. However, the body and mind quickly adjust to Opioids and crave their effects, making the substances highly addictive.

Opioids vs. Opiates

Opioids do slightly differ from the similarly named Opiates. The difference is that Opioids are at least partly synthetic. Whereas Opiates are completely derived from the poppy plant. Several drugs come under each category.

Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is one of the more dangerous Opioid examples. This drug is highly addictive and is used to treat severe pain. It is useful for doing so round the clock, as Hydrocodone comes in extended release form.

Oxycodone

Similarly to Morphine, Oxycodone is used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. The main difference between the two drugs is that Oxycodone is an Opioid, meaning it is partly synthetic.

Hydromorphone

Another higher addictive drug on this Opioid list is Hydromorphone which is also used to treat pain. For those who become tolerant to Hydromorphone or other Opioids/Opiates, the extended-release form of the drug tablets can still be helpful.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic Opioid. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is one of the most potent drugs available. Like it’s Opioid counterparts, it is also used as a treatment for pain.

The Signs and Symptoms of Opioids Use

Recognising the signs of Opioid use is important, due to the potency and dangers the drugs create. Opioid addiction signs are not always immediately present, but the more a user exposes themselves to the drug, the more apparent symptoms will become. It is vital to spot symptoms as early as possible due to the danger of the substances.

Signs of Opioid abuse include:

  • A euphoric state – The user will seem excessively happy and maybe even like they’re in a daze
  • Drowsiness – The user will seem overly sleepy
  • Fatigue – There may be physical tiredness as well as general tiredness
  • Confusion – Opioid abuse can lead to both forgetfulness and lack of awareness. Both of these then lead to trouble.
  • Dilated pupils – Pupils of a user will be larger
  • Shallow breathing – Breathing may be slowed and inconsistent
  • Lack of appetite – There may be little to no desire to eat
  • Constipation – Lack of appetite may also be part of the reason. However, the bodies functions will slow down too and make excreting almost impossible in some cases
  • Mood Swings – Euphoria will be the initial state of mood but as the drug wears off the users mood will be far less predictable

Long-term and Short-term Side Effects

Oxycodone Opioid painkillers in bottles. One bottle spilt on table.

Opioid abuse is dangerous regardless of how long the drug is used. However, extended use may change the side effects the drug has. It may even worsen some of the effects. Addiction to Opioids can influence the person psychologically. The psychological effects of Opioids may lead to the person seeking out the drug more often as shutting off the outside world and ignoring responsibilities such as their job or family.

Other psychological effects of Opioids include:

  • Delirium
  • Euphoria
  • Seeking out more of the drug
  • Financial issues due to a loss of understanding of what is important
  • Lack of inhibitions
  • Mood swings
  • Psychosis and paranoia
  • Depression and anxiety

In addition to the psychological effects, Opioid effects may be physical. Physical effects of Opioids may consist of symptoms such as Nausea and lethargy.

Other psychical effects may consist of:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Temperature changes
  • Goosebumps
  • Headaches
  • Shallow breathing

Both, physical and psychological Opioid side effects can be split into two time periods. The short-term side effects and the long-term side effects.

Short-term Side Effects Of Opioid Use

The effects of Opioid abuse in the short term can still be highly dangerous to the user. Although the symptoms may be lesser than those in the long term, they can still cause discomfort and psychological issues that can be extremely harmful.

Short-term side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Paranoia
  • Suppressed breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea

Long-term Side Effects Of Opioid Abuse

Opioid side effects tend to worsen with long-term abuse. In addition to the worsening of pre-existing side effects, long-term abuse allows new side effects to emerge, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling bloated
  • Constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Respiratory depression
  • Brain damage
  • Tolerance to the drug
  • Dependence on the drug
  • Psychosis
  • Extreme Paranoia
  • Depression
Long-term Opioid abuse can also lead to the weakening of the immune system. This leaves the user more exposed to diseases, which makes any kind of detox all the more challenging and dangerous. In addition to that, conditions such as hyperalgesia can be induced by excessive Opioid consumption. This makes the user more sensitive to pain, which again makes detox all the more challenging, as well as general life. Infertility, a loss of muscular power and irregular menstruation are some of the other more harmful long-term effects of Opioid abuse, which make life all the more challenging.In long-term abuse, these symptoms will continue to worsen if the user continues to abuse the drug. Continued abuse can also lead to worse symptoms such as a coma or even death. Treatment for long-term abusers will be a more challenging time to overcome. However, it will be well worth it for the physical and psychological health benefits attained afterward.

Opioid Overdose: What is Next?

Opioid Overdose – The Causes

Multicolored Opioid pills scattered everywhere.

Opioid overdose is caused by taking an excessive amount of the substance. An excessive amount may be anything more than your body is used to, which is why you should only ever consume the amount prescribed by your doctor or medical professional. Opioid abuse tends to be the main cause of overdose amongst users. They become dependent on the drug to function in everyday life, and their tolerance to the drug means they keep increasing their dosage, to get the high they need to function. As it increases the chance of overdose dramatically, it is hazardous to increase the dosage.

Another common cause of overdose is mixing drugs that should not be mixed. Many people do not check which drugs are safe to take with Opioids. They also don’t always disclose every allergy or medication to their doctor. This can cause issues as when the drugs interact they can potentially cause fatal side effects, including overdose.

The Effects and Symptoms of Opioid Overdose

The effects of an Opioid overdose on a person can be deadly. The overdose can also cause permanent damage if the user survives.

Opioid overdose effects can be both physical and psychological, they include:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Permanent or temporary nerve damage 
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Muscular disorders
  • Coma
  • Death and more

Due to the potential effects of Opioid overdose being so dangerous, it is important to avoid the situation if possible. This can be done by spotting the symptoms of an oncoming overdose.

So what are the symptoms of an Opioid overdose?

Recognising the symptoms of an Opioid overdose will allow you to get help as quickly as possible.

That is why it is so vital to be able to spot the signs:

  • Confusion or delirium
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Seeming intoxicated
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sleepiness or coma-like state
  • Blackouts
  • Cold skin that has a blue tint especially around the nails
  • Respiratory issues 
  • Respiratory arrest 

The Opioid Addiction Crisis

Due to their addictive nature, Opioids are commonly abused outside medical use. Many users enjoy Opioid highs despite their dangers. This has led to an Opioid addiction crisis. However, the effects of the Opioid addiction crisis, are not just felt by the users themselves. The drugs also affect those around the user. The psychological effects of the drug are so harmful that they can relationships to deteriorate and slip into a worse place.

In addition to that, because of the number of overdoses it sometimes places strain on hospital resources. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 115 people die every day from Opioids overdose.

It is believed the Opioid addiction crisis began in the 1990’s when it was believed the drugs weren’t dangerous or addictive. During that time they were overprescribed. By then it was too late, hundreds of thousands of people had become addicted, and the crisis had begun. By 2015, over 33,000 people were dying every year from the Opioid overdose. Overdoses increased by over 30% in 52 different areas in the USA, which highlights the hook they have over users.

Preventing Opioid Overdose

Preventing an Opioid overdose may seem simple, but it often isn’t that easy for an addict. However, some precautions can be taken to ensure Opioid overdose doesn’t take place. Monitoring your dosage carefully and not exceeding that which you are prescribed is the most effective precaution. If the drug is no longer affecting, you should consult your doctor to find an adequate substitute. In addition to monitoring dosage, overdose can be avoided by following the instructions given when taking the drug. For example, taking it at the right time or not straight after a meal when it will have less effect and you will be more inclined to consume more of the drug.

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If you have reached the stage where you believe you cannot prevent your overdose because of your level of addiction, you should get medical assistance. Opioids are highly dangerous if mistreated and can cause severe issues for the user. For further information on where to get help or the types of treatments available for you, please call our hotline at (888)-459-5511.

Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline and Detox

Overdosed man with pills scattered on floor.

The process of Opioid withdrawal is a tough one even for a short-term user. It is even more challenging for long-term users. Opioid withdrawal is the process of removing all Opioids and related substances from the body and overcoming addiction. This also means staying clean and never using the drug again. However, withdrawal is rarely so simple. Opioid withdrawal symptoms make sure of that. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are what users go through when detoxing, and removing Opioids from their body. Withdrawal symptoms are essentially the body getting used to life without the drug and reacting to it.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms often include:

  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Cold like symptoms
  • Sweating and temperature changes
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle aches and spasms
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Aggression and mood swings
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea

Due to these symptoms being so unpleasant, Opioid users tend to struggle to quit alone. Many are overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of ailment at once. That is why it important to know everything you can about going through Opioid withdrawal treatment and to get the support you need when you decide detox.In addition to getting the ideal treatment for you, many people suggest taking small doses of other Opioids to help get you through. This is because your body will still get the effect of the drug, but the Opioid will be a slightly different kind, such as Methadone instead of Morphine. A little pain relief in a small dose can help users get through the most challenging stage of their withdrawal with a bit of ease, all without continuing their addiction.

So how long does Opioid withdrawal last and at which stages will each symptom occur?

Opioid withdrawal usually lasts around 5-7 days when it comes to the physical symptoms. However, this isn’t always the case as a lot of factors come into play with withdrawal length. Factors such as the period of abuse, amount abused and even the person’s physical state will all have an effect on the length of withdrawal for an individual.

Even after the user has battled through the effects of physical withdrawal, they may still experience psychological withdrawal symptoms for a while after. Again, the length depends on factors such as health and the length of time Opioids were abused for.

Withdrawal effects usually become noticeable within the first 24 hours after the last dosage. The following Opioid withdrawal timeline highlights the symptoms that occur during each time period of withdrawal:

Days 1-3
Uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms will start to emerge within the first two days before growing stronger. However, this is only temporary. Because of the symptoms being so uncomfortable during the first few days of withdrawal, this is the time relapses are most common. Therefore, it is vital to have the support you need during this period, to help you battle through.

During this initial period, symptoms will usually include:

  • Irritation and uncomfortable skin
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Sweating and temperature changes
  • Aggressive behavior and mood swings
    • Stomach problems/digestive issues/constipation
    • Insomnia
    • Panic attacks 
    • Loss of appetite
    • Depression
Days 3-5
During this period, most withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside or lessen. Psychological symptoms may still remain, however, it is likely that they will also weaken.
Symptoms that remain may include:
  • Minor muscular pains
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Stomach pains and digestive issues
  • Temperature changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
If your withdrawal continues slightly longer than this timeline suggests, you should not be alarmed. As long as you have the medical support you need then there is no reason to be worried. Withdrawal is never the same experience for any two people, so one persons withdrawal may be up to a weak shorter than others. They may also experience withdrawals effects slightly differently. However, this is completely normal.

How Opioids are Made?

Opioids are made by extracting seeds from poppies and mixing the substance with chemicals. Opium sap contains of 25 alkaloids, however only 3 of those are Opiates. Unlike, Opiates, which are completely natural, Opioid ingredients contain a man-made substance mixed in to alter their influence.

Opioids such as Oxycodone are made in a lab after extracting the poppy seed. The process used is known as oxidation, followed by hydrogenation.

This process turns an Opiate into a synthetic Opioid. Hydromorphone, another Opioid is also made with a very similar process.

The following process described how to make Opioids:

  • Extract poppy seed to get the Morphine alkaloid
  • Directly rearrange the substance by heating the Morphine in a solution with platinum or use catalytic hydrogenation to reduce the Morphine to Dihydromorphine.
  • Oxidise with benzophenone with potassium or aluminum tert butoxide
  • The Morphine Opiate is now Hydromorphone, an Opioid.

The main feature of Opioids is their ability to affect the brain by impersonating endorphins and thus becoming neurotransmitters. This completely changes the way the user feels the world around them. Unfortunately, it also makes them highly addictive. Furthermore, because Opioids are used medicinally, they are very easy to get hold of and quite cheap in comparison to many other drugs. Opioids can be purchased with a prescription in stores or without prescription online, meaning they can be easily purchased in bulk too.

Opioid Addiction Treatment and Rehabs

Depressed woman sat on floor.

Undergoing withdrawal from Opioids is an extremely challenging experience. The withdrawal symptoms can be challenging for anyone to deal with, which is why it is recommended that you get as much support as possible while going through the process. This could be from family and friends, but you should also ensure that there is some form of medical support too. That way, your withdrawal symptoms do not go untreated and makes things more difficult for you.

Often, one of the most difficult parts of withdrawal is convincing yourself or another to start it. The first step in recovery is believing you need help with your addiction, which is why it is so important to look out for the signs of addiction. You then need to find the most suitable way for you to combat your addiction.

Deciding what kind of treatment is best may mean you have to incorporate many factors into your decision. These factors may include your lifestyle, health, and responsibilities, as well as how long you have been taking Opioids for. You may also want to find a treatment center at an affordable price for you, or in an excellent location so the family can visit easily. If you do decide to start recovery, all the factors have to be considered to ensure you get off to the best start possible with your recovery.

There are a variety of ways in which you can get the support you need during Opioid withdrawal. Opioid treatment options include addiction centers, such as inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, as well as various forms of counseling and therapy.

Inpatient Opioids Rehab Centers

Inpatient Opioids rehab centers are often vital to any Opioid addiction recovery. These treatment centers are so essential for getting Opioids addiction help as they provide around the clock medical care and treatment. This is very important throughout withdrawal as it ensures users are less likely to relapse during the early stages of treatment. It also ensures that they have the support they need and feel like they are in a safe environment during their treatment. This can provide a needed psychological boost for the users.

Inpatient treatment centers for Opioids are not only beneficial for their around the clock care, but for the structure, they give to their patients. According to The US National Library of Medicine, Opioids create a strong level of dependence on the drug, so getting into a routine allows users to find ways of dealing with day to day tasks without that dependence.

In addition to those benefits, inpatient rehab also allows patients to get therapy and counseling when needed. This gives users ways to deal with their addiction and helps to get to the reasoning behind why they were addicted in the first place, in the hope of avoiding a relapse for the same reason. There is also the option to take Opioid addiction medication, to ease withdrawal symptoms. This is often another Opioid such as Methadone, which doubles up as a painkiller and helps the user to taper off their use of Opioids, by using another Opioid they aren’t addicted to. This helps to relieve some of the more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and gives users a better chance of effectively detoxing without a relapse.

Outpatient Opioids Rehab

Young sad mad sitting by the window in regret.

Outpatient Opioid rehab is also very essential to any fully-fledged detox process. Not only does an outpatient rehab offer a different form of treatment, but it allows inpatients to continue treatment after they have left an inpatient center. Outpatient rehab allows users to maintain their healthy life, so they can be flexible and be around their friends and family while they detox. During outpatient rehab, users will have set dates and times to visit a center for therapy or a treatment session. During the course, the center will ensure they are on track with their detox and check that withdrawal symptoms aren’t affecting the person’s health too much.

Although outpatient treatment isn’t around the clock, like with inpatients, it does allow patients to get the help they need when they want it. For this reason, along with the regular check-ins, inpatients use outpatient care to stay on track with their detox and avoid relapse.

Outpatient care also allows users to get Opioid addiction medication to help with their withdrawal symptoms, just like inpatient care. In fact, the treatments may differ slightly, but they have many of the same elements, from therapy, medication and health support. The main differences are the change of structure and freedom that is available as an outpatient.

Another reason for choosing outpatient care rather than inpatient is the price. Constant care comes at an expensive cost, so inpatients are usually those who have been addicted for a more extended period or consumed more of the drug regularly. If the addiction is only minor, outpatient care is a much more frequent choice, as users aim to save money.

Therapy, Counselling, and Aftercare

Therapy and counseling are usually part of both inpatient and outpatient care, but sometimes, they are also part of aftercare recovery.

During the treatment and detox process, therapy and counseling provide users with vital psychological support and give them ways to stifle cravings and deal with addiction. They may help to provide coping mechanisms for life without Opioids, as well as exposing patients to fellow users, so they can relate to their issues and help one another.

As part of aftercare programs, therapy and counseling are equally vital. They may help users stay on track, not allowing them to relapse. They may also help to maintain a structure, so the addict doesn’t sink straight back into a life of using again. In addition to that, group therapies will allow former users to stick together, so they can support each other through any potential craving, making relapses less likely. According to The National Institute On Drug Abuse, between 40-60% of drug abuse treatment patients suffer a relapse at some stage. This makes the additional support of aftercare therapy and counseling all the more vital. It also means that even if users do have the occasional slip-up, they are more likely to refrain from abusing the drug time and time again, as the programs will encourage them to regain sobriety.

Successful Treatment

When it comes to successful treatment, the user needs to be committed to the cause. The most effective detoxes are always the ones where the user wants to get clean. In addition to that, successful treatment always requires support. Whether that is the support of family and friends, or just a suitable treatment program, the user will reap the benefits. Finally, successful treatment requires psychological and physical help. Regular health checks, medication to assist in the detox process, as well as regular group and psychotherapy, all go a long way to ensure the user has as many ways of dealing with detox, and withdrawal as they possibly could have.

Opioid Abuse – A Natural Cure To The Epidemic

Since the 1990’s, Opioids have been excessively used. They may be great painkillers, but their addictive nature means they can never truly be the perfect solution to pain.

There may not be anything as strong as Opioids to completely relieve pain, but there are options to reduce it. Ginger root, papaya, and turmeric all have pain killing properties and have been proven to less the pain in those who consume them.

Another option is a safe prescribed dose of medical marijuana. Alternatively, there are much more simple methods, such as a massage, meditation or even exercise. All proven to reduce pain in their own unique and non-addictive way. So if the pain isn’t too extreme; and if you have the option to avoid taking Opioids, take the opportunity. Never taking a substance is the best way to avoid addiction.

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All these symptoms may worsen with continued Opioid abuse, so early recognition could help to ensure your health is as stable as possible. If you recognize these signs of Opioid abuse in yourself or another, you should seek immediate medical assistance. If you need further information on where to get help or the ideal treatment for you, please call our hotline at (888)-459-5511.

Opioid Overdose – Symptoms, Lethal Dosage, and Treatments

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