What Is An Overdose?
How Does It Work?
Opioids are depressants, which means that they have the effect of slowing (or depressing) your respiratory system. When taken in large amounts, opioids slow your breathing to the point that your brain, heart, and other organs don’t get enough oxygen. That’s an overdose, and if respiratory function is not restored immediately, it can result in coma or death.
Prescriptions for opioids instruct use at levels lower than the amount needed to cause organ failure and overdose. But, when opioids are taken in ways NOT as prescribed, including taking doses prescribed to someone else, dangerous amounts can be consumed at once and cause overdose.
Alcohol is another depressant, and when taken in combination with opioids (or other depressants, like benzos), the dangerous effects are multiplied. That’s why your prescription opioids come with directions to abstain from drinking alcohol.
Overdosing can happen to anyone. It does not require a history of substance use or even the use of prescription medications. Taking too much can have dire consequences.