Author: Charles Frank

Fatal fix: How an opioid overdose shuts down your body

how long does a drug overdose take

Seek support for any instances of a substance use disorder. With the right care and prevention strategies, it is possible to treat drug overdoses or prevent them altogether. Although many drug overdoses involve the use of illegal drugs, it is also possible to overdose on prescription medication. Many doctors prescribe opioid medications for pain management. These medications carry a high risk of addiction and overdose, especially if taken outside a doctor’s directions.

how long does a drug overdose take

An opioid overdose happens when opioid use causes respiratory depression, which can lead to respiratory failure and death. From 2015 to 2016, the number of deaths from lab-made opioids, including fentanyl and chemical kin such as carfentanil (used to tranquilize large animals), more than doubled in the United States. It’s not clear how opioids trigger this, but filled with fluid, the lungs can’t oxygenate blood very well, and a person may slip further into respiratory trouble. One of the telltale signs of opioid overdose is frothy fluid around the nose and mouth and fluid in the lungs, called pulmonary edema. The brain stem and certain other parts of the brain are particularly rich in the receptors that attach to opioids.

The middling effect staves off withdrawal and keeps people from turning to the more dangerous heroin or fentanyl. But if used incorrectly, buprenorphine and other opioid-based treatments can also kill. Neurological disruptions like seizures can sometimes lead to persistent cognitive impairments or memory issues. Gastrointestinal distress, while immediately uncomfortable, can also result in longer-term digestive problems or imbalances in the body’s electrolytes. Furthermore, the mental and behavioral changes experienced during an overdose, like extreme anxiety or hallucinations, can sometimes precipitate ongoing psychological challenges or disorders. It’s essential to understand that the repercussions of an overdose can persist long after the immediate crisis has passed, emphasizing the importance of medical intervention and follow-up care.

What are the signs of drug overdose?

This makes it difficult for the body to remove alcohol from the bloodstream and can harm other body parts. Combining different drugs can cause a particularly dangerous overdose. This can lead to breathing difficulties, lowered heart rate, seizures, and loss of consciousness. With the next pump of your heart, your now opioid-rich blood is pushed out to the rest of the body, where it plugs into the system of opioid receptors all over your body. Males, people of older age and people with low socio-economic status are at higher risk of opioid overdose than women, people of young age groups and people with higher socio-economic status.

  1. This is often an under-reported consequence of overdose but can lead to seizures, coma or death.
  2. Cardiovascular disturbances might result in lasting heart conditions or weakened heart muscles.
  3. All drugs, including prescription drugs prescribed by a doctor, can cause an overdose because there’s a limit to how much our bodies can handle.
  4. The framing of the question “How long does an overdose last?
  5. An opioid overdose happens when opioids negatively affect the part of your brain that regulates breathing, resulting in ineffective breathing.

First, it’s essential to point out that the criteria for an overdose aren’t necessarily straightforward, so it can be challenging to explain it. An overdose is when a toxic amount of substances, or a combination of different substances, overwhelms the body. People can overdose on a variety of substances, including alcohol, Tylenol, opioids and more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 106,699 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2021. Around 80,000 of these deaths involved an opioid overdose.

What causes opioid overdose?

An opioid overdose happens when opioids negatively affect the part of your brain that regulates breathing, resulting in ineffective breathing. A person experiencing an opioid overdose needs naloxone and immediate medical care to prevent death. Naloxone (spray or auto-injectable) can reverse an opioid overdose, including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications. Administer the naloxone and then stay with the person until emergency services arrive on the scene, or for at least four hours to monitor if their breathing has gone back to normal. Naloxone (Narcan) is the main emergency treatment for opioid overdose. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means it attaches to opioid receptors in your body and reverses and blocks the effects of opioids already in your system.

Cardiovascular disturbances might result in lasting heart conditions or weakened heart muscles. For example, overdosing on opioids adversely affects an individual’s ability to breathe. This lack of oxygen can cause organ damage, unconsciousness, and even death. Medications are also available to help treat addiction to alcohol and nicotine. WHO recommends that naloxone be made available to people likely to witness an opioid overdose, as well as training in the management of opioid overdose.

The FHE Health team is committed to providing accurate information that adheres to the highest standards of writing. This is part of our ongoing commitment to ensure FHE Health is trusted as a leader in mental health and addiction care. Additionally, the combination of different substances can cause an overdose. For example, a person may have taken only a small amount of two different substances, but they prove to be toxic in conjunction. This is why it’s crucial individuals never mix substances, even if they think they’re in control of their substance abuse. Anyone experiencing symptoms of an overdose should seek emergency medical care immediately.

When it comes to drug overdose, being proactive is essential to reversing overdose and preventing death. If you see these signs of overdose, do not abandon the person out of fear of getting in trouble. You should seek medical help immediately if you have these symptoms or witness them in someone else and suspect they may have overdosed. The most obvious way to tell if these symptoms indicate overdose is if you know you have taken drugs or have seen someone else take drugs. Getting medical help quickly can make a big difference in the effectiveness of drug overdose treatment. Avoid combining prescription medications with other substances, such as alcohol.

If an individual almost died from a drug overdose, the experience could have been traumatic and lead to anxiety, depression, PTSD or other mental health conditions. Taking too many pills may lead to an overdose in some people. Symptoms of a drug overdose may include breathing difficulties, changes in heart rate or body temperature, seizure, stroke, and more. Because addiction can affect so many aspects of a person’s life, treatment should address the needs of the whole person to be successful. Counselors may select from a menu of services that meet the specific medical, mental, social, occupational, family, and legal needs of their patients to help in their recovery. If first responders suspect an opioid overdose, they’ll administer naloxone, a medication that treats opioid overdose.

The common symptoms of an overdose from an upper include:

Most people dependent on opioids used illicitly cultivated and manufactured heroin, but the proportion of those using prescription opioids is growing. In a hospital setting, healthcare providers order drug tests to diagnose opioid overdose. They also perform other tests to assess the health of the person and to look for possible complications.

Someone who regularly uses a drug starts to develop a tolerance to it. This means they require more and more of the drug to get the same effect. Other substances, such as cocaine, speed and ecstasy, are stimulants or “uppers” and are known for speeding up the central nervous system.

This can include taking any amount of someone else’s medication or more than the doctor prescribed. Their regular non-medical use, prolonged use, misuse and use without medical supervision can lead to opioid dependence and other health problems. Opioid dependence is a disorder of regulation of opioid use arising from repeated or continuous use of opioids.

More Questions about Treatment?

Stopping drug use is just one part of a long and complex recovery process. Different types of medications may be useful at different stages of treatment to help a patient stop abusing drugs, stay in treatment, and avoid relapse. 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. It can be difficult to prevent an opioid overdose because you may not know the potency of the substances you’re using. In a hospital setting, healthcare providers order several tests to check for any complications.

If you take a prescription opioid, it’s important to teach your family and friends how to respond to an overdose. Store the opioids safely where children and others can’t find or access them. Police officers, emergency medical technicians and first responders carry and have training on how to give naloxone. In most communities, any person can get and carry naloxone on them, not just medical professionals. It’s important to receive training on how and when to use naloxone.