Identifying Opioid Overdose

Video 7 of 13
1 min 41 sec
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The main medical function of opioids is to provide some form of analgesia or pain relief. However, when taken, a person may experience a state of euphoria. As previously mentioned, opioids affect the part of the brain responsible for controlling breathing rates, and it can slow down to a deadly rate. If a person is known to be addicted to opioids, even if they are currently taking a course of opioids, finding them unconscious should be starting to ring alarm bells of overdose. Signs that an unconscious person may have overdosed from opioids include being pale and clammy, having an extremely slow breathing rate or not breathing at all, having blue extremities, and they cannot be woken or roused after trying.

We will go over what to do if you find someone who is unconscious in a different video. Something else to look out for, should you suspect an opioid overdose, is the way of administering opioids. These could be empty blister packets, which are used to contain opioids or even empty needles. In some cases, the needle might have even be stuck in the person. On the contrary to finding used opioid containers, another sign which could arise suspicion, if they have some sort of naloxone nearby. As this course will go over, naloxone quickly reverses the effects of opioid overdose, and people at risk of overdosing may store some naloxone nearby. So if you find someone you think may have overdosed, just take a second and observe them and see the surroundings to see if there is anything to back up your theory.