Oxymorphone Hydrochloride Overdose

Oxymorphone hydrochloride is a semi-synthetic opioid painkiller that’s ten times more powerful than morphine and should only be used under close medical supervision. Cases of lethal overdose are common when oxymorphone hydrochloride is recreationally abused. The bioavailability and metabolism of oxymorphone hydrochloride can vary dramatically from one patient to another. For this reason, it’s critical to monitor patients closely when administering the drug for the first time. Incidences of hypersensitivity can occur.

Oxymorphone hydrochloride is only available in the US as an extended-release tablet. Tablets are available in 5 mg to 10 mg tablets. Initial doses should never exceed 20 mg. Additional doses may be administered as needed every four to six hours.

The onset of overdose symptoms can be sudden. The main characteristics of oxymorphone hydrochloride overdose are a limp body, constricted/pinpoint pupils, unresponsive behavior, and severe respiratory depression. If the patient goes too long without receiving medical attention, they can die from hypoxia (oxygen starvation).
Overdoses occur when the patient’s body can no longer metabolize the drug. Cardiovascular and respiration begins to slow down the body’s vital systems, ultimately causing them to shut down.

In addition to insufficient breathing, unresponsiveness, and pinpoint pupils, the person may exhibit any of the following warning signs: dizziness, blue lips, nails, or skin, drowsiness, irregular heart rate, clammy/cold skin, fluctuating blood pressure, chest pain or discomfort, numbness in the extremities, and loss of consciousness. As a rule, if you cannot confirm that the patient is aware of their surroundings or if they are lethargic and uncoordinated, they should be considered at risk of an overdose.

The amount of oxymorphone hydrochloride that will trigger an overdose depends on how well the individual metabolizes the drug. For new patients, the lowest effective dose with the shortest acting duration should be given. A dose of 20 mg of oral oxymorphone hydrochloride is considered to be a safe and effective dose.

The effects of the drug last for anywhere from four to six hours, at which time the patient may be given another dose as needed. Patients should be monitored closely for respiratory depression during the first 24-72 hours following the initiating therapy. For subcutaneous, intramuscular injections of the drug, the initial dosage should not exceed 1 mg every four to six hours. No more than 0.5 mg of oxymorphone hydrochloride should be administered intravenously at any one time.

Oral oxymorphone hydrochloride is best taken on an empty stomach at least one hour before eating in order to ensure maximum absorption. Due to the high potential for developing dependence and the risk of overdose, clinicians are advised to underestimate a patient’s 24-hour dose. If, after 24 hours, the patient’s dosage appears to be insufficient, doses should be increased with caution until symptoms of pain subside.

The longer a patient uses oxymorphone hydrochloride, the higher the potential for developing a dependence. As time passes, the individuals may need to take increasingly higher doses to experience the same perceived effects of pain reduction and feelings of well-being.

Oxymorphone does more than simply reduce the experience of pain. It also elevates levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for feelings of pleasure. One of the primary neurotransmitters that oxymorphone hydrochloride acts on is dopamine. The neural pathways that trigger dopamine production may begin to atrophy as the patient becomes dependent upon the drug.

When the individual stops taking the drug, the lack of dopamine production can lead to an inability to experience pleasure. In response, the patient may begin taking larger doses of oxymorphone hydrochloride in search of an enjoyable high. This is when the patient becomes at serious risk for severe respiratory depression and overdose.

When experiencing an overdose, the patient may exhibit pinpointed pupils and extreme lethargy -bordering on unconsciousness. If left untreated, the patient’s respiratory and circulatory systems will begin to shut down due to toxic carbon dioxide levels and lack of oxygen.

The treatment priority is, first and foremost, administering an opioid antagonist like naloxone. Naloxone is available as an injection and nasal spray. Naloxone forces oxymorphone hydrochloride to release itself from the opioid receptor sites, which negates the effects of the drug. In many patients, naloxone triggers the immediate onset of withdrawal symptoms. If administration of an opioid antagonist like naloxone is delayed, life-saving procedures may be needed to secure the patient’s airway and provide adequate oxygenation.

For more information on the risks associated with oxymorphone hydrochloride use, visit www.TheRecoveryVillage.com. Our toll-free hotline is open 24/7. Contact us any time at 855-548-9825.

In 2018, there are more than 200,000 cases of Oxymorphone Hydrochloride Overdose per year. The estimated amount of hospital emergency room visits from Oxymorphone Hydrochloride Overdose increased from 4,599 to 12,122 in just one year. More specifically, between January and June 2012 there were 185 Oxymorphone Hydrochloride related deaths in Florida alone.

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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