Overdose that involves opioids, whether prescribed medications like Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin, or illegal opioid drugs like heroin, can be fatal and are the most pressing cause for concern. Dangerous situations also arise when opioids are used in combination with alcohol or other powerful drugs, including some prescription medications.
Opioid Overdose Danger Signs
Call 9-1-1 if a person exhibits any of these symptoms:
- Face is extremely pale or feels clammy to the touch
- Body has gone limp
- Fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
- Vomiting or making gurgling noises
- Cannot be awakened or is unable to speak
- Breathing or heartbeat slows or stops
If you are taking opioids for pain relief, make sure to follow the doctor’s directions and dosage in your prescription. Also, if you see more than one health care provider, be sure to disclose all drugs you are taking to safeguard against harmful interactions.
While overdose cases are common, the Emergency Department sees even more patients who are suffering the effects of opioid withdrawal. Those affects can include:
- Runny nose
- Prickly skin
- Feeling cold, clammy and sweaty
- High intensity pain or cramps in muscles and joints
In these cases, treatment is not as urgent, but a physician can suggest or prescribe non-narcotic medications to help control nausea, diarrhea and muscle cramps caused by the withdrawal, as well as short-term medications for anxiety.
If you are dependent on opioids, it can be difficult to stop using them on your own. To increase your odds for success, first consult with a primary care physician or an addiction specialist.
Cottage Residential Center offers affordable treatment programs for those recovering from alcohol and chemical dependency. CRC provides solutions that empower recovery, restore dignity, and reconnect families. Since 1975, Cottage Health has been dedicated to providing the most up-to-date, effective, and dignified treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction.
Recovery Road Medical Center in Santa Barbara offers a multi-disciplinary program specific to people dealing with chronic pain that can also addresses related drug dependency and addiction. Center co-founder Dr. Joseph Frawley is an internist who has special training in chronic pain management and in treating addictions. He’s a member of Cottage Health’s new opioid task force, too.
There are also several AEGIS Treatment Centers located on the Central Coast. AEGIS offers replacement therapy, in which a patient who is dependent on a prescription opioid receives an alternative opioid, such as methadone, to help relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms while working toward recovery with medical supervision and at the person’s own pace.
Narcotics Anonymous Santa Barbara also offers support.
Finally, if you do use prescription opioids, make sure they are in a secure place, even a safe, where other family members, especially teenagers and other children, cannot access them.