In the widest terms, heavy use and abuse of OxyContin is a warning sign of overdose. It’s a problem that strikes even those who take their medications as prescribed and/or who have been on the medication for years. No one who takes high doses of the drug, abuses it in any way, or combines it with other substances is out of harm’s way. In more immediate terms, however, the ability to recognize an OxyContin overdose as it is happening can mean the difference between life and death.
NOTE: If you believe that your loved one is currently overdosing on OxyContin, call 911 emergency medical services immediately. Answer their questions as thoroughly as possible and stay on the line as they provide you with directions on what to do and what not to do.
Signs of an Opiate Overdose
Depending upon how much OxyContin was taken and if other substances are in the system at the same time, the signs of an opiate overdose will vary. According to Medline Plus, the overdose victim may:
- Be unresponsive or unable to carry on a conversation
- Have shallow breathing or no breathing at all
- Have a slow heart rate
- Exhibit a bluish tint to nails, lips and/or skin
- Have dilated pupils
How OxyContin Overdose Is Treated
If emergency medical help is received in time, there is often hope for recovery. There may be a number of different methods attempted in the event of an opiate overdose, including:
- Intubation. Use of a tube inserted through the mouth into the lungs to help the overdose victim breathe or for gastric lavage.
- Gastric lavage. Also known as pumping their stomach.
- Medication. Naloxone is a medication that has been used with some success to stop the effects of an opiate overdose.
- Toxicology screening. Used to determine all the substance present in the body.
At the hospital, the victim will likely undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to ensure that the overdose was not intentional, or an attempt at suicide.
Who Is at Risk for OxyContin Overdose?
Anyone who takes OxyContin is potentially at risk for overdose but the following people are at a higher risk than most, including those who:
- Crush OxyContin pills before ingesting them
- Snort or inject the pills
- Use OxyContin in combination with other substances, including alcohol and other sedative or painkiller medications
- Use OxyContin without a prescription that is monitored by a doctor
- Take more OxyContin than prescribed or dose more often then recommended
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The best way to prevent overdose is to stop taking OxyContin. If chronic pain is an issue, patients can learn more holistic ways of managing their pain without addictive medications. If the prescription was in response to an acute issue that has passed or if the drug was originally taken recreationally, then patients can learn how to handle stressors, boredom, mental health symptoms, and other issues they were attempting to “medicate” with the drugs in a more healthful fashion. In both cases, OxyContin detox followed by intensive addiction treatment is recommended as patients address their abuse of or addiction to the drug before tragedy strikes.
If your loved one is actively abusing OxyContin and you fear they will succumb to overdose, accident under the influence, or other issues that can arise due to opiate addiction, call us at Alta Mira today and find out how we can help.