is a Hydrocodone/Oxycodone Overdose?
Hydrocodone and oxycodone are drugs that are commonly used to
relieve pain. Certain prescription pain relievers contain high concentrations
of these ingredients, including:
An overdose may be caused by accidentally taking more than the
prescribed amount in a 24-hour period. Overdose may also be caused by
intentionally taking more than the recommended dosage for recreational use, or
to do personal harm.
An overdose is extremely dangerous, and can be fatal. If you or
someone you know may have overdosed on prescription medication, you should call
911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
Hydrocodone and oxycodone are powerful drugs that doctors only
prescribe when necessary. The ingredients in these drugs are habit-forming and
some people may develop a dependency or addiction to them. People who become
addicted often build up a tolerance to the drug and need to take larger amounts
in order to feel its effects. This type of behavior can often lead to an
Others may use these types of drugs without a prescription to get
“high.” This is an extremely dangerous practice, particularly among young
adults. According to the National
Institute on Drug Abuse, 6.1 percent of high school seniors reported
abusing these drugs in 2014.
Abuse of these medications means taking them recreationally (not
for medical purposes), or consuming them in a way different from what is
recommended, such as snorting or injecting them.
Painkiller Use Among the Elderly
Unfortunately, painkiller abuse and overdose are prevalent among
almost all age groups. This includes teens, adults, and the elderly. There is
greater concern among the elderly due to:
- slower metabolism
- multiple prescriptions
- increased forgetfulness
If you have an elderly family member who is taking painkillers,
you might consider helping them by:
- organizing medicines
- dividing up meds by day
- keeping a dosing log
It is also helpful to check in on your loved one on a regular
basis. The risk for deadly complications from an accidental overdose increases
significantly with age.
People who take painkillers may experience certain side effects
such as drowsiness, constipation, or nausea. However, an overdose can carry the
risk of more serious symptoms. These include:
- shallow breathing, which may slow down to the
point of stopping
- extreme fatigue
- small pupils
- lack of consciousness
A drug overdose is a
medical emergency. If you or someone you know is
experiencing symptoms of an overdose, call 911 or poison control at
Effects of Prescription Painkiller Abuse
Long-term abuse of prescription painkillers can cause severe
medical complications. These complications
become even more dangerous when you drink alcohol or combine prescription
medications with other drugs.
- respiratory problems
- slowed heart rate
A drug overdose requires emergency medical treatment. If
breathing is extremely slow or shallow, or if emergency room doctors feel that
symptoms are life-threatening, a drug called naloxone is used to reverse
symptoms of an overdose. If breathing is acceptable, doctors may instead use
activated charcoal or laxatives to help remove any leftover medications in the
Drug treatment programs and therapy may also be recommended to
address problems with drug abuse and addiction.
Recovery, and Outlook
You have the best chances of surviving an overdose if you receive
medical attention before you experience breathing problems. When your breathing
slows, oxygen levels decrease, which can eventually lead to brain damage if you
wait too long for treatment.
Your outlook also depends on the severity of the overdose and how
quickly you seek medical treatment. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol and
other illegal substances increases the risk for life-threatening complications.