Opioid intoxication, or overdose, is potentially life threatening. Here’s a list of common opioid intoxication symptoms and what to do if they show up.

Opioids are a class of medications used to treat pain. They work well for people who are going through extreme discomfort.

However, opioids can carry a high risk of misuse. And in some cases, they may be overprescribed.

Some opioids are prescribed by a doctor, but others may be obtained illegally. But no matter where they come from, every opioid carries the same risks.

In fact, about 40% of deaths from opioid overdose involved prescription opioids, though it was not reported if these were prescribed or illegally obtained.

Some common types of prescription opioids include:

Any of these medications, as well as other legal and illegal opioids, can cause opioid toxicity. This is when the dose of opioids taken is large enough to make you sick or even cause death.

The chances of opioid toxicity go up when you take opioids with other substances, like certain medications or alcohol, that can magnify their effects.

If you or someone close to you has been prescribed opioids for pain, or you suspect that a loved one has an opioid use disorder and may have a higher risk for toxicity, it’s important to learn about the signs and symptoms of opioid intoxication, or overdose, and know what to do if symptoms arise.

According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, these are the signs of opioid intoxication to look out for:

People experiencing opioid intoxication may also feel:

  • calmness
  • euphoria
  • a lack of pain

Overdose signs that require immediate medical attention

While the symptoms mentioned above can be indicative of opioid intoxication, some more serious signs that can indicate a potentially fatal overdose include:

  • extremely pale skin
  • clammy skin
  • losing consciousness
  • body has gone limp
  • fingernails or lips have a blue or purple color
  • vomiting
  • gurgling noises
  • not responding to stimuli
  • breathing or heart rate slows or stops

Opioids can help relieve extreme pain, but they can also come with a risk of misuse and overprescription. If you think your dosage is off, or if someone you know may be living with opioid use disorder, look for signs of overdose like:

  • loss of consciousness
  • unresponsiveness to stimuli
  • blue or purple fingernails or lips
  • shallow or absent breathing

Opioid intoxication, if left unchecked, can be fatal, so it’s essential to seek medical help if you notice any of its symptoms.

To be prepared to help someone experiencing an opioid overdose, it’s often recommended to carry intranasal naloxone with you at all times.

If you or someone you know wants to stop using opioids, it’s important to understand how to taper off, and to taper off in collaboration with your treatment team, to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

If you’re looking for additional resources, consider contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline at 800-662-4357. This confidential and free referral and information service is available 24/7 in English and Spanish.