Drug overdose may be intentional or accidental. A drug overdose basically refers to taking too much of a drug, more than is recommended or considered safe for the body to process. The drug in question could be medically prescribed as medication for certain issues or it could be a recreational drug such as alcohol, stimulants, and illicit drugs. Opioids and depressants are among the most common drugs associated with overdose. When a substance is taken in overdose, it could result in harmful effects, some of which may result in serious health issues or even death. More often than not, however, the victim’s life is saved through timely medical intervention.
Currently, drug overdose is among the leading causes of accidental death in the US, making it a major health crisis. It includes drugs taken orally as well as injectables. Apart from causing death, however, an overdose could lead to short-term or long-term health effects on the OD’d individual. These could range from mental to emotional and physical health issues. On his note, let’s take a look at a few ways how the overdose crisis has created lifelong health issues in the current generation.
1. Substance Dependence
Addiction and overdose are often intertwined. While addiction to a drug could eventually lead to an overdose, the opposite is also true to some extent. Repeated overdose, whether intentional or accidental, could easily lead to dependence or addiction. Substance dependence can negatively impact many aspects of your life, including your career, relationships, financial wellness, physical health, mental health, and overall wellbeing.
This is why it is important to seek help if you suspect that you or someone you know is showing signs of addiction or overdose. There’s always a safe way to get help, whether one is hooked to illicit drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs such as opioids. Combined with other treatment approaches, a medical detox can help you get clean and sober, kick-starting your recovery journey.
2. Cardiovascular Effects
Prescription stimulants are known to affect the heart in various ways. In this respect, stroke, heart attack, vascular disease, and abnormal heart rate are some of the complications that come with an overdose. Excessive intake of some of these drugs may even lead to death or long-term cardiovascular issues due to the effect of the drug on the heart. Injections overdose, for instance, can lead to collapsed veins and bacterial infections on the blood vessels and heart valves.
3. Gastrointestinal Effects
Anything that gets in the body through the mouth lands in the stomach. Have you have been on medication and after swallowing the drug, you felt nausea or probably threw up? Many drugs cause this, along with other symptoms such as dehydration. Along with the mentioned short-term effects some GIT effects of overdose such as abdominal pain, acidity, and severe constipation may also become chronic.
4. Musculoskeletal Effects
Did you know that steroids are not bad for the body? But misuse can cause major health effects on the muscles, bones, and joints. Steroids come in different forms, including prescription steroids (corticosteroids) and bodybuilding (anabolic) steroids. When too much of the latter is used, it can lead to a short stature because the bones may not grow as they are supposed to. Apart from this, steroid overdose may also cause trigger bone and muscle weakness, as well as other health conditions such as high blood pressure, and immune decline.
5. Kidney Damage
One of the functions of the kidney is to remove drugs and other wastes from the body while balancing body fluids. But when the drugs are in excess, the kidney may not perform as expected because it becomes overworked and overwhelmed by the overdose. When this happens, kidney damage, kidney failure, or kidney disease could result. Consequently, the individual could depend on dialysis for the rest of their lives.
6. Hormonal Effect
Generally, drugs affect the hormones but when too much is taken, it disrupts their normal production, functionality, and performance in the body. Drugs that enhance appearance and performance, for instance, disrupt the normal production of hormones in the body. Even though some overdoses can be reversed, when taken in overdose, such drugs could cause reversible and irreversible body changes, including infertility in women and testicle shrinkage in men.
7. Liver Damage
One of the liver’s functions is to filter the blood, eliminating, toxins, drugs, and other waste substances. An overdose could be poisonous to the body because the liver may end up getting overworked as the kidney suffers the same fate. The chances of liver damage are higher for chronic alcohol abusers, where it often leads to alcohol poisoning.
Finally, an overdose increases the risk of mental health issues such as paranoia, anxiety, hallucination, and depression. In the worst-case scenario, the victim may permanently lose his mind. Before the repercussions get to an irreversible state, it’s important for the person to seek medical attention for early treatment. It is even more alarming that when an overdose occurs without a watch, the person may end up losing his or her life.