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What to Do if You Suspect an Overdose

Substance abuse is rampant in developed nations as well as developing nations. Ongoing addiction can be devastating, and recovery can be a daunting and discouraging process. But I want to start this article on a hopeful note. According to Safe Harbor, “There’s a long process to recovery, and it begins with admission.” This is consistent with scripture, which tells us that “whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

As distressing as ongoing addiction can be, the worst-case scenario is an overdose. Overdose situations happen fast, and they can kill in a matter of minutes. If you suspect that someone has overdosed, you must act quickly. Knowing what to do ahead of time will help you to work effectively if you ever encounter this situation in the future.

Opioids

Opioids are commonly used for pain management, but a normal prescription can quickly devolve into an addiction and an overdose. A person who has overdosed on opioids such as hydrocodone may exhibit a wide range of symptoms, depending upon the substance involved. Opioid intoxication victims typically will move very slowly, if at all. They may slump over. Speech may be slurred. Breathing may be severely impaired. The eye pupils will look like tiny pinpoints. Their skin may be pale or even blue. If you suspect it’s an opioid, do the following:

  • Stay calm
  • Delegate someone (ideally 2 people) to call 911, or call yourself if nobody is available
  • Check to see if the patient is breathing
  • If not, administer CPR (compressions only — no mouth-to-mouth)

If you can’t do CPR, make sure the victim is turned on one side while you wait for help. This will help prevent aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs in case the victim vomits. Opioids kill by severely suppressing breathing centers in the brain. An average person will take about 20 breaths per minute. You can count the victim’s breaths by watching their chest rise and fall for one minute. This will help you determine just how severe the situation is.

Some states allow citizens to carry naloxone, which is the antidote used to reverse opioid intoxication. It comes in the form of tubes. The contents are squeezed into each nostril. If someone close to you is abusing opioids, you may want to look into getting a naloxone kit if you can. It may well save a life.

Stimulants

Someone who has taken an overdose of a stimulant, such as cocaine or amphetamine, will display dilated pupils, agitation, and rapid speech. They may have seizures. Sometimes they may behave very aggressively. They may have a high fever and chest pain as well.

Call 911 immediately. Try to calm the person and assure them that help is on the way. Acute stimulant overdose can kill just as surely as an opioid overdose can.

Barbiturates

Although not as common, barbiturate intoxication can occur. When it does, it’s very, very dangerous. Barbiturates typically have narrow therapeutic dose ranges, which means that the difference between a dose that will induce sleep and one that will kill isn’t much. Victims will be very, very sleepy. They may not be conscious at all. Call 911 and then administer CPR if you can. If not, be sure the victim is turned on their side. Vomiting is highly likely. Unfortunately, there is not a specific antidote for this type of drug poisoning. A hospital can provide supportive care and possibly save the person’s life.

These suggestions will give you some idea of the actions to take should you encounter a drug intoxication situation. Education is the first step to preparation, and preparation saves lives. Proverbs teaches us to  “Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared” (Proverbs 3:25-26). Act quickly. Remember that every second counts.

Drug Choices for Chronic Pain Management

Many conditions can cause chronic pain. Just a few of the most well-known are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, herniated discs, lupus, and migraines. All such conditions demand relief for the people who suffer from them. Fighting pain day after day is exhausting but knowing the best pain treatments can help. Some of the best types of medicines for these chronic pains are the following.

Anti-Inflammatory Pills

Anti-inflammatory pills are sometimes the first line of defense for the previously mentioned ailments. Some of them work by blocking certain enzymes and thus preventing inflammation from occurring. The affected person usually feels a great sense of relief once the inflammation or swelling declines. Examples of anti-inflammatory drugs are items such as Celebrex, Lodine, Naproxen, and Feldene (https://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/ask-the-expert/do-nsaids-help-fibromyalgia/). An anti-inflammatory diet can be a great addition to help with these kinds of issues as well. Leafy greens and green vegetables are a great source of valuable nutrition and vitamins. Foods like broccoli, spinach, celery, bok choy, and beets can help lower inflammation and are a good source of antioxidants.

 

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids work by slowing down the activity that the immune system does. They can be highly helpful in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and SLE, which are the auto-immune diseases. Slowing the immune system down can stop a lot of the inflammation that occurs. Examples of corticosteroids are prednisone, methylprednisolone, betamethasone, and so on. Someone who takes these items may not see results for a week or two (https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/corticosteroid-use-pain-management). Like many anti-inflammatory alternatives, natural takes on corticosteroids would be things like an antioxidant-rich diet. You could also include supplements like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Tumeric has also been shown to have some good anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Natural Painkillers

Narcotic painkillers are effective for pain management because they bind to the opioid receptors and make it impossible for the person who takes them to feel pain for a certain amount of time. They are probably the most effective regarding quick and solid relief, but they are the riskiest because of the chance that a physical addiction will develop over time (https://www.morethanrecovery.com/soberlink.html). If you want to avoid the risks that can come with narcotic drugs but reap their pain-blocking benefits, try some plant-based options with similar ingredients. Blue lotus has historically been used to successfully treat muscle spasms, cramps, and migraines. It can be made into a tea or even wine (http://naturalsociety.com/4-natural-legal-herbs-for-pain-relief-you-dont-know-about/). Wild opium lettuce looks like an ordinary weed to most of us but has opioid properties that can be used in pain relief. Kava kava is most often used in Polynesia and has been used to reduce anxiety and to achieve a euphoric-like feeling.

 

Anticonvulsants and Antidepressants

Some specialists prescribe anticonvulsants or antidepressants for people who have chronic pain. Their line of thinking is that the drugs will affect their serotonin and dopamine levels. Both of those chemicals can change the way a person experiences pain. Some patients have had relief, while others have not experienced any positive changes. Examples of anticonvulsants that doctors sometimes use in pain management are Lyrica and Savella (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26491936). Examples of antidepressants that specialists use in chronic pain treatment regimens are elements such as Cymbalta and Elavil.

 

Those are just a few of the medicines that one can take for chronic pain. Each case is different, so a treatment that works for one person may not necessarily work for the next. The list should give interested persons a clue as to where to look, however. They can ask their doctor to consider prescribing one of these elements for the pain.