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Opioid Toxicity: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

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Red Toxic Stamp on white background representing opioid toxicity

Addiction to opiates or narcotics, such as oxycodone or morphine, has been on the rise, especially in recent years. One of the reasons that opioid addiction is so dangerous is that it increases the risk of opioid toxicity. This can end up causing severe health problems or be life-threatening. If you or a loved one struggles with opiate addiction, it’s important to know the signs of acute opioid toxicity. You should also be aware of treatment options for an addiction to opiates and seek medical care.

What Is Opioid Toxicity?

When used safely, opiates such as oxycodone, codeine or morphine can help relieve pain. If you or a loved one abuses these drugs, acute opioid toxicity could occur. Consequently causing serious issues to various organ functions; either due to high levels of these drugs or interactions with other drugs or substances, such as alcohol. Instead of working as intended, these narcotics can affect your respiratory system, heart, brain and other major organs.

What Causes Opioid Toxicity?

Opioid toxicity can occur when you have too much of a narcotic in your system or when using opiates with other types of drugs or alcohol. Acute opioid toxicity may occur if you take opiates in a way that is not intended or safe. Such as snorting or smoking or taking more than what’s prescribed. Keep in mind that other situations can also lead to opioid toxicity. Situations such as using opioid medications if you have an underlying kidney or liver problem.
Your risk of opioid toxicity might be higher if you have specific risk factors. These include being elderly, which has a higher risk of accidental overdose or experiencing changes in metabolism that affect how opiates are absorbed into your body. You might also have an increased risk of acute opioid toxicity if you have built up a tolerance to narcotics. When this occurs, you need higher amounts of these drugs in order to achieve the same results.

Treatment for Opioid Toxicity

Treatment for opioid toxicity requires the assistance of emergency medical professionals. Until help arrives, you should try to keep yourself or your loved one awake and as alert as possible. If a loved one has fallen unconscious, you should gently turn them on their side to prevent them from choking in case they vomit. When medical professionals arrive, they will monitor vital signs and provide treatment accordingly, such as stabilize heart rate and pulmonary function. If a serious overdose has occurred, medical professionals might use naloxone, which immediately helps reverse the effects of opioid toxicity.

Preventing Opioid Toxicity

If you or a loved one struggles with an opioid addiction, it’s important to seek treatment. Early and effective treatment can reduce the number of adverse and risky effects including opioid toxicity. Finding the best treatment program can take some in-depth research.  The great news is that the internet provides you, with an array of treatment information at your fingertips.
The most successful opioid treatment programs generally involve going through a detoxification process under medical supervision. In this way, you have a better chance of overcoming the withdrawal symptoms and be on your way to adopt healthier habits. The detox part of recovery should be done under close supervision in order to ensure that you or your loved one do not encounter any serious medical problems. Stopping opiate use can put tremendous strain on your body, especially if you have been coping with an addiction for a long time. An inpatient medical detoxification helps your body get rid of these substances in a safe manner that does not put your health at risk.
Following the detox process, you or your loved one should consider taking part in counseling and other treatment to curb addiction and replace unhealthy behaviors and thoughts with healthier ones. This part of the recovery process helps lower your risk of relapse, which lowers your risk of opioid toxicity. Going through treatment for opioid addiction takes time and requires patience as your physical and emotional well-being gradually improve. Although the recovery process, including detox, can be a time-consuming challenge, going through with it can help prevent you or your loved one from having acute opioid toxicity.
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