MS Contin Overdose
The risk of overdose is high with extended-release opioids like MS Contin. This is because they contain significantly more of the drug than immediate-release formulas. MS Contin is designed to be released gradually over an extended period of time; however, the extended-release feature can be bypassed by crushing the pills. This can lead to severe respiratory depression and fatal overdose.
The amount of MS Contin necessary to overdose varies dramatically based on the unique metabolic factors of each patient. Age, weight, body fat percentage, and genetic tendencies are among the many factors that influence MS Contin metabolism.
MS Contin is a full opioid agonist. This means that it binds primarily to mu-opioid receptors in the body. The only exception to this rule is during high doses, at which time MS Contin may bind with other opioid receptors as well. Full opioid agonists do not produce the “ceiling effect” that is common with partial opioids. As a result, individuals will continue to feel increasingly “high” on the drug up until the point of overdose. Full opioid agonists like MS Contin are much more likely to result in overdose as people who use the drug recreationally chase the euphoria associated with morphine use.
MS Contin is a powerful central nervous system depressant. MS Contin acts directly on the brain stem to inhibit its ability to monitor carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Under normal circumstances, elevated carbon dioxide levels cause the brain stem to trigger respiration. In the event of a severe overdose, the brain remains unaware of the need to breathe.
The patient may progress rapidly from responding to questions in full sentences to being entirely unaware of their surroundings and unresponsive. If left untreated, the patient may experience muscle spasms, seizures, pulmonary edema, rhabdomyolysis, compartment syndrome, and permanent brain damage.
Age is a factor because older patients tend to have slower metabolisms. A slower metabolism increases the likelihood of overdose. MS Contin is primarily metabolized by the liver. Impaired liver function increases the chance of overdose due to elevated plasma concentrations and extended clearance times. The minimum lethal dose of morphine is 120 mg. In individuals who are hypersensitive, doses as low as 60 mg can be fatal. Severely opioid-dependent persons may take up to 3000 mg per day without noticeable complications.
If clinically significant respiratory depression is present, an opioid antagonist like naloxone will be administered to reverse the effects of MS Contin. Naloxone can take effect within seconds when it is injected or inhaled. Multiple doses may be necessary in cases of severe overdose. Naloxone use can trigger the onset of severe opioid withdrawals.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid misuse or abuse disorder, The Recovery Village is available to answer any questions you may have.
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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