What Happens During Opioid Overdose and Reversal?
Opioid addiction is an increasingly tragic problem gripping the United States. In Arizona alone, between June 15, 2017 and November 29, 2018 there have been 2,535 opioid deaths and an additional 16,620 suspected cases of opioid overdose. While heroin addiction and heroin treatment Arizona are the highest in Phoenix, it’s all over the state. It’s become an epidemic. A third of those suspected with opioid overdoses are able to get prescription opioids from ten or more clinical prescribers in the last year. Opioid addictions can lead to opioid overdoses very quickly. What happens during opioid overdose can change a person’s life, and even lead to death.
What Makes Opioids So Addictive?
Opioids are so addictive because they appeal to your body’s natural feel-good transmitters. When taken, they trigger the release of endorphins. This is why they are often prescribed for pain, as endorphins mask one’s perception of pain and also encourage feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The incredible sense of well-being is one that is appealing to people, and often one that your body will begin craving more and more of as the opioid dosage wears off.
Because the power of an opioid to effectively manage pain is existent, doctors will prescribe them for pain management. But, because they are so easily addictive, and often so easily prescribed, many find themselves in addiction situations they’d have never predicted they’d be in. This is ever an increasing reason heroin treatment Arizona is on the rise as well.
What Happens During Opioid Overdose?
The inherent danger in an opioid addiction is the ever-present threat of an opioid overdose. Because opioids like heroin make users feel good, their bodies will naturally crave more and more. But those good feelings take a bad turn very quickly if you accidentally overdose.
Your body’s respiratory and central nervous system will shut down and you’ll forget to breathe. As well, your heart may stop beating regularly, which is called arrhythmia. When this happens, your heart can’t pump the right amount of blood through your body and you’ll not get enough oxygen in the places you need it. This can also lead to your nervous system completely shutting down—which means everything else starts to shut down too, including the ability to breath. By the time a user begins to experience some of the signs of overdose—shallow or slow breathing, limp body, choking, vomiting, slow pulse or even losing consciousness, it can often be too late.
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What Does Opioid Overdose Reversal Look Like?
When one experiences an opioid overdose, the first course of action toward saving their life is the administration of naloxone. Commonly known by brand names of Narcan or Evzio, in an emergency situation, a dose can be the difference between life and death in an opioid overdose.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, from June of 2017 through October of 2018, 7,183 naloxone kits were ordered for 63 law enforcement agencies in the state. States vary on their administration protocol and usages for naloxone kits, but in the state of Arizona, the drug epidemic is so great that there is a standing order that allows anyone to get a naloxone kit from any licensed pharmacist, even without a prescription. While many clinicians and paramedics/law enforcement agents use injectable naloxone in the form of Narcan injectables, anyone is legally allowed to administer a dose of naloxone to anyone in need.
This has both positives and negatives. Users will often feel that having a ‘standby’ of naloxone means that even if they do overdose, they will be able to survive it, either because the overdose won’t be powerful enough or the naloxone will save their lives. Although it is good that a rescue drug is available to those who may need it, naloxone is not 100% effective.
When one experiences an opioid overdose, and naloxone is administered, their body goes through tremendous changes very rapidly. Naloxone will bind to the opioid receptors in the brain instead of the overdosed drugs. It’s an opioid antagonist that works to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, though it can have some unpleasant side effects.
Why Naloxone Isn’t a Cure To Opioid Overdose
While the administration of the naloxone may be life-saving, its effects are one-time. Long-time heroin users still face danger when they continue the path of opioid use—always taking the risk that the next time, they’ll survive. The problem with naloxone is that too many users believe it is a cure and that is simply not the truth.
When one experiences an opioid overdose, that should be a wake-up call. It should be the catalyst for a change that only going through a recovery program to fully rid oneself of addiction can bring on. While the existence of naloxone is a life-saving gift, its use is an indicator there is a much bigger problem at hand.
The sad fact is that the very thing that makes heroin addiction so easily addictive is also what makes it so hard to break the addiction. Users often attempt to make changes in their lives, but the intense withdrawal symptoms that can go with that process are daunting and painful. As well, there are physical and mental aspects to going through a withdrawal process that often are near impossible when doing by oneself, particularly if still in the same environment that the drug use and abuse occurs.
Empowering, Compassionate Rehabilitation Is the Answer
Having the opportunity to seek help with compassionate and concerned professionals who know what you are going through is so important. A recovery plan that offers inpatient detox and round-the-clock care is one that will allow you the fullest recovery and return to the life you were meant to live. Choosing to be part of an addiction recovery program means that you are choosing to take the necessary steps to get your life back—and within an environment that will guide you, treat you and support you the entire way.
Relapse outside of a recovery program is a high risk. Those who immerse themselves in comprehensive and empowering rehabilitative programs not only find the resources they need to succeed in getting their life back, but they are putting themselves in safer positions against relapse as well. Heroin treatment Arizona truly is just a small step away, if you’re willing to take the first one.
When you’re empowered with the right resources from the right program, you can take steps that will change your life for the better. Contact Arizona Addiction today for a free consultation.
Content for Arizona Addiction by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment and technology. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media
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