opioid overdose

Last reviewed 10/2022

Overdose results in respiratory depression and coma; pinpoint pupils are an associated sign. Pulse rate, temperature and blood pressure also fall.

Naloxone is a specific antidote which should be administered if the patient is bradypnoeic or comatose. Continuous infusion or repeated injections are necessary because naloxone is short-acting.

Overdoses of agents combining an opiate and paracetamol (such as co-proxamol), cause the same effects initially, and should also be treated with naloxone. Paracetamol hepatotoxicity should be anticipated.