Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Overdose

The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant health crises in American history. Opioid overdoses have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people including a long list of famous people and celebrities such as Prince or Heath Ledger. In 2018 alone, there were nearly 47,000 opioid-involved overdoses. While there are ways that you can overcome an opioid overdose, avoiding addiction and abuse in the first place is the best way to avoid this issue entirely.

Regardless if the “pill problem” is abuse or full-blown addiction, the signs of opioid overdose remain the same.

Signs of an Opioid Overdose

If someone you know is using opioids, it is vital that you understand and can recognize the various signs of opioid overdose. Being able to identify these may be the difference between life and death.

Before jumping into the symptoms that some people may show, let’s first examine some of the additional risk factors that you be considered and signs that someone who uses opioids may end up dealing with a dangerous overdose down the line. An individual is more at risk of opioid overdose if they are:

  • Combining opioids with alcohol or other drugs
  • Taking more than the prescribed amount
  • Taking another dose even opioids are still in the system
  • Taking high daily dosages of prescription opioids
  • Young adult (18-25)
  • Over 65 years old
  • Deal with certain medical conditions such as kidney problems or sleep apnea

These are just a few of the increased risk factors that can increase an individual’s chance of dealing with opioid overdose. Now let’s take a look at some common symptoms that people dealing with an opioid overdose may exhibit.

Opioid Overdose Symptoms

One of the most common and obvious signs that someone is dealing with an opioid overdose deals with their respiratory system.

During an overdose, an individual’s breathing will become slowed or may even stop. Unfortunately, this can lead to dangerous problems such as brain damage or death.

Along with slowed breathing, other signs of opioid overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Choking and vomiting
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Cold skin

All of these symptoms, especially those related to the respiratory system are dangerous and can lead to life-threatening situations and can even cause death in many causes. While these issues can be problematic, there are still ways to treat opioid overdose, reverse the problem, and help people who are struggling with opioid addiction.

Opioid Overdose Treatments

If you see someone who is suffering from an opioid overdose, the best thing you can do is call emergency services immediately. From there, the police dispatcher will likely walk you through what you can do until help arrives. Oftentimes, this will include things like trying to keep the person awake and breathing or laying them on their side to prevent choking.

Once emergency services arrive, they will likely administer a medication that has been proven to reverse opioid overdoses.

When it comes to opioid overdoses emergency responders have been trained to administer a medication called naloxone to help. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist and a medication that is designed to rapidly reverse the problems associated with an opioid overdose.

An opioid antagonist means that the medication binds to the opioid receptors in the body, reversing and blocking the effects of other prescription opioids or heroin that may have caused the problem.

After using naloxone, an individual who was struggling from slowed or stopped breathing will normally return to their normal respiration.

Naloxone is administered either through injection or through a nasal spray.

While naloxone can help patients overcome an opioid overdose, there is still more to be done for the victim. First of all, they need to be monitored after this episode to ensure that their vitals stabilize properly, and they can return to normal.

Following an opioid overdose reversal, many patients can be confused and even combative in some cases. These reactions are another reason that opioid overdose victims must be monitored following their situation.

After these patients can stabilize, they will likely need to seek out the help of an inpatient drug rehab to help them overcome their addiction or abuse problem.

Opioid Overdose Prevention

Opioid overdoses are best prevented by not using the drugs in the first place. These overdoses can occur from using both prescription opioids and heroin. If someone you know is using one or both of these substances, it is vital that they get help for their opioid abuse problem. There are numerous addiction treatment facilities across the nation that can provide support and healing for those who are suffering.

But, with so many options, how do you know which rehabs are the best?

Finding the Best Opioid Rehab

Obviously, “the best” is a subjective term, but what you’re looking for is a quality facility that can offer you or your loved one a wide variety of treatment options that can help them get sober and begin the long-term healing process.

We’ve put together a complete guide on what makes someone the “best inpatient drug rehab center” you can read, but in short, here are the primary things to look for:

The Joint Commission is an organization that vets various medical field practices to ensure that facilities are meeting the high standards of practice. The Gold Seal of Approval from this organization demonstrates that the addiction treatment center is going above and beyond to ensure that clients are being cared for properly and are given the tools they need to succeed.

Along with meeting industry standards from the Joint Commission, you want to ensure that those who will be treating you or your loved one are meeting quality standards and are diverse in their fields of knowledge.

Addiction is not a one-size-fits-all approach, everyone will be different, which means all treatment will be different. One client may need a behavioral therapist and someone to administer MAT while another client may need experiential therapy and the help of a nutritionist.

You want to ensure that whatever facility you are looking into has a long list of treatment options at their disposal.

While having a professionally diversified staff is vital, it is also important to ensure that the treatment programs being offered are evidence-based modalities. Some of these include things that are offered at a large majority of addiction treatment centers like cognitive behavioral therapy. However, it can also include things that are sometimes controversial like medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Many believe that MAT is replacing one substance with another but this is a common misconception. MAT has been clinically proven to be an effective form of addiction treatment in helping people with long-term sobriety.

At The Hope House, we’ve created a dedicated MAT program that is available to clients struggling with opioid addiction. It is NOT a required program, but is open to all clients who wish to participate.

These are just a few of the things that you should look for when conducting your search for a great addiction treatment center. The best thing you can do when searching is to call the facilities and talk with the admissions staff to ensure that they are a quality facility.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Since the start of the opioid epidemic in the late 1990s to 2018, about 450,000 Americans have died due to overdoses involving opioids, both prescription and illicit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the problem has slowed down much, in fact, with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the issue may have actually gotten worse, with some reports showing that opioid overdoses have increased by nearly 30%.

Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done to combat this public health crisis. The Hope House provides opioid addiction treatment to help those in need and work to overcome the opioid epidemic in the best way we can.

The Hope House is a luxury addiction treatment facility dedicated to helping its clients overcome their substance abuse problem and achieve long-term sobriety and healing. If you are interested in learning more about what The Hope House can offer and about developing a personalized treatment plan, reach out to our admissions team today.

For those seeking other forms of opioid treatment, try searching “drug rehab Arizona” or whichever city/state you’re located in to find a center near you.

Don't Know Where to Start? The Hope House Can Help.