Last year, more people died from opioids than died in car accidents.1
Prescription opioids can be a powerful tool to help manage pain. Unfortunately, they carry the risk of a specific side effect, known as opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD), that impacts your breathing and cause it to slow or even stop. Without early warning and action, this side effect can lead to cardiac arrest, brain damage, and death.2
What exactly is Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression?
Opioid-induced respiratory depression is the medical term for a disorder that causes your breathing to slow or stop, resulting in a lack of oxygen to your body. Some degree of respiratory depression will always occur with opioid therapy. When respiratory depression is severe, breathing can stop even when an opioid is taken exactly as prescribed.3,4
30% of patients surveyed who were prescribed opioids in the last 3 years, didn’t know it.5
Opioids go by many names and they aren't always labeled as an opioid on the pharmacy bottle. Each of these fairly common medications is categorized as an opioid: codeine and dihydrocodeine, tramadol, buprenorphine, methadone, diamorphine, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, and pethidine, among others.
Parker Stewart, a 21-year-old who underwent a routine tonsillectomy, stopped breathing after taking just half of his prescribed opioid dose.
Odds of Dying - Data Details. National Safety Council; Injury Facts, 4 Mar. 2021, injuryfacts.nsc.org/all-injuries/preventable-death-overview/odds-of-dying/data-details. Statistic based on US metrics.
Prescription Opioid Data | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html.
Peterson C, Liu Y, Xu L, Nataraj N, Zhang K, Mikosz CA. U.S. National 90-Day Readmissions After Opioid Overdose Discharge. American journal of preventive medicine. 2019;56(6):875-81.
Williams AR, Nunes EV, Bisaga A, Levin FR, Olfson M. Development of a Cascade of Care for responding to the opioid epidemic. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse. 2019;45(1):1-10.
National Safety Council. Prescription opioid pain killer public opinion poll. October 2017.
Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2020. Available at HYPERLINK "http://wonder.cdc.gov/" http://wonder.cdc.gov.