Almost one-third of overdose deaths are directly related to the use of prescription opioids.1
Respiratory depression can happen to anyone taking opioids, but some patients are more vulnerable than others. Patients with the following factors may be more likely to experience an opioid-related emergency:2-4
Those who have started taking opioids for the first time
Respiratory and Chronic Health Conditions
Have a respiratory condition (sleep apnea, COPD, asthma) or a chronic health condition (HIV, diabetes, liver/lung/heart disease, obesity, mental illness)
Combining Opioids with Other Sedating Drugs or Alcohol
Taking opioids with alcohol, illicit drugs, or other sedatives typically used to treat insomnia or anxiety (benzodiazepines, gabapentinoids, sleep medications)
Recently Released from Incarceration
Individuals may struggle with acclimating to life outside a structured, controlled system and face increased risks of substance abuse disorder
High Opioid Doses
Take high opioid doses (above 100mg)
Substance Use Disorder
A history of substance use disorder or a reduced tolerance of opioids following a detox
Anderson, Maia. “A Record Number of People Have Died of Drug Overdoses during the Pandemic, CDC Says.” Becker's Hospital Review.
“Opioid Overdose.” World Health Organization, 28 Aug. 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/opioid-overdose.
Gupta K, Prasad A, Nagappa M, Wong J, Abrahamyan L, Chung FF. Risk factors for opioid-induced respiratory depression and failure to rescue: a review. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2018 Feb;31(1):110-119. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000541. PMID: 29120929.
Dunn, Kate M et al. “Opioid prescriptions for chronic pain and overdose: a cohort study.” Annals of internal medicine vol. 152,2 (2010): 85-92. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-152-2-201001190-00006
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 Annual Surveillance Report of Drug-Related Risks and Outcomes — United States. Surveillance Special Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Published August 31, 2018.