Administering Kadian to patients who are not adjusted to opioid use can significantly increase the risk of overdose. In addition to drug tolerance, several other factors influence the likelihood of overdose. The patient’s weight, body fat percentage, genetic tendencies, liver and kidney health, and overall physical status all play a role in how Kadian is metabolized in the body. Mixing Kadian with other central nervous system depressants greatly increases the chance of fatal overdose.
The patient’s alertness can progress from extreme lethargy to somnolence, stupor, and coma within minutes depending on the severity of the overdose. One moment the person may respond to questions in full sentences, and the next he or she may border on unconsciousness.
Patients should be closely monitored for severe respiratory depression. This is the primary risk factor when addressing Kadian overdose. Kadian is a powerful central nervous system depressant that acts directly on the brainstem to suppress the instinct to breathe.
People who take Kadian recreationally may try to crush the pill before taking it. This effectively bypasses the time-release feature of the drug and releases 100% of the drug’s content into the system at once. This can be fatal, as individual Kadian pills can contain up to 200 mg per capsule.
Kadian is a full opioid agonist. Kadian does not produce a “ceiling effect” in the way the partial opioid agonists do. This means that the person (mis)using the drug will continue to feel progressively “higher” up until the point of overdose.
Kadian is intended only for use in patients who are already opioid-tolerant. Patients are considered sufficiently opioid-tolerant for Kadian use if they have been taking at least 60 mg of morphine daily for a week or longer. Patients are also considered opioid tolerant after taking 30 mg of oxycodone, 8 mg of hydromorphone, or the equivalent of other synthetic opioids for at least a week.
The risk of overdose is highest during initiating doses when the patient first adjusts to the drug. The first 24 to 72 hours is the highest risk period. Patients should be closely monitored for respiratory depression during this time.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid dependence, The Recovery Village is available to answer any questions you may have. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 352-771-2700 to learn more about recovery options in your area.
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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