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RenéMarie Simply the Group

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Alexey Ovchinnikov
Alexey Ovchinnikov

Painkiller Overdose WORK

Although men are still more likely to die of prescription painkiller overdoses (more than 10,000 deaths in 2010), the gap between men and women is closing. Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose among women have risen more sharply than among men; since 1999 the percentage increase in deaths was more than 400% among women compared to 265% in men. This rise relates closely to increased prescribing of these drugs during the past decade. Health care providers can help improve the way painkillers are prescribed while making sure women have access to safe, effective pain treatment.

Painkiller Overdose

Prescription opioid abuse has become a crisis in the United States. Painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and fentanyl are commonly prescribed, highly addictive, and frequently misused. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 54 million Americans have used prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes at some point in their lives. Ten percent of all patients who are prescribed painkillers will go on to develop an addiction. And each day, over 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose.

An overdose occurs when a person uses more of a substance than their body can handle. No one can tell exactly how much of a drug it will take to push someone to the point of an overdose. Different people have different thresholds, but risk factors for an overdose include poor physical health, mental illness, using alone, or having a history of a previous overdose. Whether it occurs accidentally or intentionally, an overdose can often be fatal.

During an overdose, the drug overwhelms the parts of your brain that control your respiratory and circulatory functions. Neurological signals are suppressed, leading to slowed breathing and heart rate. Sometimes, people who overdose may experience abnormal heart rhythms; sometimes they will enter full cardiac arrest.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual overdose. If you or someone you are with overdoses, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Adults should not take more than 3,000 mg of single-ingredient acetaminophen a day. You should take less if you are over 65 years old. Taking more, especially 7,000 mg or more, can lead to a severe overdose problems. If you have liver or kidney disease, you should discuss the use of this drug with your health care provider.

People with liver disease are more likely to develop serious complications of acetaminophen overdose. Overdose may be either acute (sudden or short-term) or chronic (long-term), depending on the doses taken, and symptoms may therefore vary.

Some of the most predominantly prescribed pain management medications are opioid analgesics (painkillers). These prescription drugs interact with opioid receptors throughout the brain, initiating a chain of events that ultimately brings pain relief to the user.

Opioid overdose is very serious and potentially fatal if not acted upon quickly. If someone in your life is abusing opioids, you should be prepared to react in an efficient and effective manner, so as to give the victim the best chance for survival.

\nOpioid effects, similar to those of heroin, reinforce patterns of abuse and can quickly lead to addiction, as many users will continue to increase their doses, which can later lead to a fatal overdose\n"}Experiencing or witnessing an overdose can be a traumatic experience. In either case, it should be a call to action to get help.

In recent years, federal agencies have described the abuse of prescription painkillers as reaching epidemic proportions. In fact, this epidemic has moved beyond our shores and now impacts multiple regions throughout the world. Up to 36 million people abuse opioids globally, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The US though has been hit particularly hard, however. NIDA estimates that 2.1 million people in the country are currently suffering from opioid painkiller addiction.

Opioids now account for the greatest proportion of the prescription drug abuse problem. Overdose deaths associated with prescription opioid painkillers have tripled in the last 20 years, surpassing deaths caused by either heroin or cocaine (NIDA, 2014). The Department of Health and Human Services found that in 2014 alone, 28,000 people died of an opioid overdose, half of which were attributed to prescription opioids.

Opioid painkillers are a problem in and of themselves. However, research is also suggesting a link connecting the abuse of prescription opioids to heroin. Per the CDC, nonmedical prescription painkiller users are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin at some point. Prescription painkiller users often shift to heroin because of the cost and accessibility.

Long-term use or abuse of painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin comes with a number of risks, and overdose is one of the most life-threatening. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that about 15,000 Americans lose their lives to painkiller overdose every year, more than the number of people who overdose on heroin and cocaine combined.

Depending on how many pills your loved one took and whether or not they are under the influence of others substances as well, the signs of overdose may be slightly different. However, according to Medline Plus, most people who overdose on opiate medications will experience the following:

It is becoming easier for friends and family of heroin users or patients taking strong painkillers to buy an antidote that can reverse the effect of an overdose, as policymakers look for ways to fight a growing epidemic.

Naloxone, which is known by the brand-name Narcan, can quickly revive someone who has stopped breathing after overdosing on so-called opioids, highly addictive drugs that include prescription painkillers like Vicodin as well as illegal narcotics like heroin. In the past, naloxone has been available mostly through clinics, hospitals or first responders like paramedics.

Deaths linked to opioids soared to more than 28,000 in 2014, the highest number on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 78 American die every day from an opioid overdose.

Explore the interactive visualization below to learn more about overdose deaths caused by narcotics and hallucinogens from 1999 to 2014. The vertical axis shows the number of people who died from a drug-related overdose in a year. The colored bands represent different types of drugs. "Other opioids" include morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The "other synthetic narcotics" category includes fentanyl, propoxyphene, and meperidine. Click on the colored bands to see the data broken down by drug type. Click on the arrows above the chart or the age groups at the bottom to see the data broken down by age.

Autopsy results released Thursday show that the musician Prince died in April from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Prince, 57, died less than a week after his plane made an emergency stop for medical treatment as he was returning from an Atlanta concert, where first responders gave him a shot of naxalone.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects information on deaths involving drugs commonly associated with fatal overdose. This information is available in a searchable database called CDC Wonder. The NCHS also provides 12-month-ending Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts by state and drug category.

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers, publishing their findings Dec. 21 in the American Journal of Public Health, say an estimated 1,029 fewer people in Florida lost their lives to prescription painkiller overdoses over a 34-month period than would have had the state not taken aim at pill mills. Florida passed new laws in 2010 and 2011 establishing oversight over pain clinics and restricting the dispensing of opioids there, while major drug law enforcement initiatives arrested and prosecuted those operating them.

The researchers also found substantially fewer deaths in Florida from overdoses involving either prescription painkillers or heroin during 2011 and 2012, a finding that calls into question claims that reducing prescription painkiller diversion will increase overall heroin use. Rates of prescription painkiller addiction are at historic highs and a portion of those abusing these medications have switched to heroin, which can be cheaper and, in some cases, easier to obtain. Other research has found that four out of five new heroin users first used prescription painkillers. What could be happening in Florida, they say, is that with less access to prescription painkillers, fewer people may be developing an addiction, which in turn may prevent people from later transitioning to heroin.

For the study, Kennedy-Hendricks and her colleagues compared Florida, before and after the implementation of pill mill laws, with North Carolina, a state with similar trends of prescription painkiller overdose death rates before 2010 and with no new restrictions on pill mills during the study period. They analyzed data on 11,721 Florida deaths and 3,787 North Carolina deaths between 2003 and 2012 in which an opioid (either a prescription painkiller or heroin) was identified as the primary cause of death.

Previous research has also found that since 2010, Florida has seen substantial reductions in oxycodone-prescribing physicians, opioid prescribing and the diversion of prescription painkillers to people for whom they are not prescribed.

Expanding distribution of naloxone (a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose) and implementing evidence-based, medication-assisted treatment programs for opioid use disorders may also reduce overdose deaths, the researchers say. 041b061a72


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