Tag: Overdose

Pain Relief vs. Addiction and Overdose: Four Steps to Maintain an Appropriate Equilibrium

By Justina Igwe (Nursing Student in Nigeria at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus)


Opioids have been one of the world’s most effective pain relievers since Friedrich Serturner of Germany extracted an opioid analgesic from opium in 1803. Extracted from opium papaver (Papaver Somiferus) a species of flowering plant that grows in all temperate regions of the world with its origin being Asia Minor, Opioids are largely used in healthcare facilities to relieve patients suffering from both acute and chronic pain.


When consumed, opioids activate the release of endorphins (the feel-good neurotransmitters) which suppresses the perception of pain and intensify the feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary yet powerful sense of well-being.

However, when the dose wears off, the patient feels depressed and wants another dose which will make them feel that sense of well-being again. (This is actually the first point toward potential addiction).

Opioids have now become a substance of concern as the world is fighting to strike a balance between their use as pain relievers and euphoriants necessitating abuse. Tragically, the CDC estimates that about one million people have died of drug overdose since 1999, of which 82.3% were opioid-involved overdose deaths involving a synthetic opioid.

As expected, reducing the burden of suffering from pain and reducing opioid addiction and overdose deaths pose a major public health challenge.

Below are four steps that can be taken to achieve that balance:

Continue reading “Pain Relief vs. Addiction and Overdose: Four Steps to Maintain an Appropriate Equilibrium”

Taking Fentanyl Can Kill You

Abstract: The lesson learned from the death of Michelle McNamara – taking opioids can kill you. The opioid fentanyl can cause delayed respiratory depression and tragically death, particularly when used in combination with other sedating drugs.

Michelle McNamara, the writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, died unexpectedly in her sleep in April 2016. Mr. Oswalt says that her death was caused by a toxic mixture of fentanyl and other drugs. As reported by People:

Continue reading “Taking Fentanyl Can Kill You”

Overdose Risk Assessment in Chronic Opioid Therapy

Before recommending opioid therapy, assess patients for risk of overdose. In this article, Peggie L. Powell, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC a family nurse practitioner, discusses using RIOSORD, the first tool intended to provide clinicians with the clinical decision support to assess the risk of OSORD and determine the possible need for naloxone. 

By Peggie L. Powell, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC

Over 100 million people suffer from chronic pain in the United States, and for some of these people, chronic opioid therapy (COT) may be appropriate. Despite the limited availability of strong scientific evidence to support long-term opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain, COT has increased substantially over the years along with an increase in drug related deaths.

Prescription opioid related deaths have quadrupled since 1999 in the United States and approximately 80% of deaths are due to unintentional overdose. The addictive nature of opioids makes them vulnerable to misuse and abuse. Persons whom take opioids for their intended purpose can risk significant adverse events if they do not take them as prescribed (e.g., taking more than prescribed and taking them in combination with other psychotropic medications and/or alcohol). Opioids can depress the central nervous system and result in serious, life-threatening consequences such as respiratory depression, sedation, coma, and potentially death. Continue reading “Overdose Risk Assessment in Chronic Opioid Therapy”