Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Overdose

Anyone can overdose on hydromorphone hydrochloride. An overdose occurs when the body cannot process a drug. When this occurs, blood plasma levels get toxic. The body starts to shut down. The drug limits brain activity that controls breathing. During an overdose, breathing can slow or stop.

In the event of an overdose, naloxone may be used. Naloxone can reverse an overdose. The drug breaks the bond to the brain. Other life-saving methods can be used as needed. The main priority is to make sure the person can breathe.

The main symptoms of overdose are passing out, limited breathing and tiny pupils. These symptoms are referred to as the “opioid overdose triad.” They are proof of major toxicity in the body. As the blood fills with hydromorphone hydrochloride, a person’s body starts to shut down.
Some symptoms of overdose may include blue lips or fingers, muscle spasms, seizures or lethargy. Others may be muscle weakness, wet lung, low blood pressure, snoring, cold skin or a slow heart rate. If too much time passes before naloxone is used, the patient will be at risk for major brain and spinal cord damage due to a lack of oxygen.
When used properly, an overdose is unlikely. The drug is most often used in a hospital via an IV. The current rule for the drug’s IV usage is starting at 0.2 mg to 0.5 mg. Doctors will wait for 15 to 30 minutes before checking the patient’s pain and breathing levels.

The limit for a solo dose of the drug is 1 mg. These rules help stop patients from having an overdose in the hospital. In the past, hospital overdoses were caused by poor patient assessments, commonly confusing hydromorphone for morphine and not switching between oral and IV dose guidelines safely.

The main cause of an overdose is using the drug with other depressants. Alcohol use can conflict with the liver’s ability to process the drug. This effect can lead to high amounts of the drug in the blood. Such levels can be dangerous.

The drug is derived from morphine. It is between five and eight times more potent than morphine. Drugs that should not be used with morphine should be avoided. Muscle relaxants, benzos, barbiturates and street drugs, like PCP, should also be avoided.

Doctors take steps to detect drug-seeking behavior in patients who request opioids. Health care providers screen patients with a history of substance misuse. Hospitals may check for signs of drug use, like scars. Medical programs are in place to allow physicians to look up a patient’s history. All of these methods are meant to protect people from having an overdose.

Treating an overdose requires the use of naloxone and ensures the person is able to breathe. Naloxone stops the effects of opioids in just a few seconds. Extra doses of naloxone may be used in severe overdoses.

The use of naloxone can bring on instant and harsh withdrawal symptoms. Life-saving procedures such as CPR may be necessary if the patient’s vitals begin to crash.

Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Overdose Statistics

Like most opioids, overdoses from this drug have increased in recent years. More than 130 people die from opioid overdoses in the United States each day. An estimated 21 to 29% of people misuse their prescription opioids. That rate is why doctors are so careful.

If you or a loved one struggle with opioid use, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to learn how expert treatment can prevent an opioid overdose.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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