Opioids, used as painkillers, help block pain signals in the body and provide immediate relief. However, an opioid overdose can lead to disruption in the breathing process or cessation of breathing altogether.
Lately, opioids are commonly being used for non-medical purposes in the United States. Misuse of prescription opioids has led to an increase in the number of emergency department visits throughout the U.S.
Prescription drugs, when used under medical supervision, can do wonders for a patient. However, an overdose or unprescribed usage of such medicines can have disastrous consequences. One of the best ways to prevent drug overdose is to educate patients as well as doctors about drug overdose and its harmful effects.
Various studies are being conducted to reduce emergency department visits and overdose involving opioids. Specialized medications have been developed to treat opioid addiction. At present, naloxone or Narcan is used to reverse opioid effects on the brain. It can be administered in the form of an injection or nasal spray to rescue individuals from opioid overdose. Naloxone is usually given in cases of non-medical use of opioids. It blocks the opioid receptors, thus stopping opioids from acting on them.
An effective way to prevent excess opioid usage is prescribing naloxone along with opioids. As the administration of naloxone requires a minimal amount of training, doctors educate patients about opioid overdose and usage of naloxone to prevent any mishap. As per experts, to prevent death from opioid overdose, naloxone should be immediately administered to the patients.
Almost every state in the U.S. allows people to purchase naloxone over-the-counter (OTC) without the need of a doctor’s prescription. However, looking at the opioid epidemic, experts call for wider access to the OTC medicine.
Other methods to prevent overdose deaths are giving medicines buprenorphine and methadone along with behavioral interventions. These medicines can help an addict overcome withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse.
Opioid overdose can be harmful to chronically ill patients as it might give rise to other complications. Overdose can also interfere with other medications and worsen the situation. As opioids induce a sense of pleasure, patients may use the drug in non-prescribed ways. When taken for a long period, the body’s tolerance level to opioids increases. It makes the brain less receptive, thus, the body needs higher dosage to get the same effect. This leads to dependence, abuse, and ultimately addiction.
When people get addicted to opioids, they come up with different ways to procure more opioids. They can visit various clinicians to collect multiple prescriptions that would satiate the hunger to get more opioids for addiction. Many pharmacies are also involved in selling opioids illegally to addicts. All these factors fuel prescription drug abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths for all substances touched 47,055 in 2014, an increase of 6.5 percent from 2013.
Painkillers are imperative to treat chronic pain, but care needs to be taken so that there is no overdose, as it can be lethal and would need immediate medical assistance. Addiction to any substance is harmful and can lead to unwanted results which can change the course of life. However, one should not lose heart as treatment for addiction is available. One should always approach a specialist for treatment as it is not easy to handle withdrawal symptoms at home.
If you or your loved one is addicted to any substance, including opioids, get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline for information on the best drug addiction treatment centers in the U.S. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for expert advice on various drug abuse treatment centers.