Opioids are potent analgesics prescribed for acute and chronic pain.1 They exert their pharmacological effects by binding to the opioid receptors (delta, kappa, mu) found throughout the central nervous system (CNS), primarily the mu receptors.2 Opioid overdose, in which an excessive amount of a dose is given, can cause opioid toxicity leading to CNS depression and reduction in the respiratory drive. This can be life-threatening and fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 165,000 people died of an opioid overdose in the United States in the 15-year period spanning from 1999 to 2014.1
In 2016, the CDC published a guideline to provide primary care providers with recommendations for opioid prescribing in chronic pain.1 One recommendation advises clinicians to evaluate risk factors for opioid-related harms before initiating or continuing opioid therapy. The following factors increase the risk for opioid overdose:
Khoa Le, PharmD
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
The information presented is current as of December 2019. This information is intended as an educational piece and should not be used as the sole source for clinical decision-making.
Posted on Jan. 30, 2020