Tuesday September 2nd 2014

Hydrocodone overdose: How much amount of hydrocodone to OD?

What exactly is a drug overdose and can you overdose on hydrocodone?

Essentially, overdose happens when you’ve taken too much hydrocodone.  But the vast majority of drug poisoning deaths are unintentional. So can you prevent an unintentional hydrocodone overdose?  In this article, we’ll explore overdose prevention and review risk factors for hydrocodone overdose. At the end, we invite your questions about hydrocodone and overdose.

How does unintentional hydrocodone overdose happen?

There’s a few different reasons why you might accidentally take too much hydrocodone. First, because hydrocodone can cause you to develop opiate/opioid tolerance, you may not be getting adequate pain relief from your prescribed dose. Increasing the amount of hydrocodone taken or the frequency at which you take hydrocodone is an easy way to unintentionally overdose on hydrocodone. Taking hydrocodone to “get high” can also result in an overdose, particularly since users consume larger amounts of the drug than are normally prescribed.  Shooting or snorting hydrocodone apap can also trigger you to OD. Finally, some people intentionally attempt to overdose on hydrocodone as a form of self-harm or a suicide attempt.

Hydrocodone overdose – How much is too much?

The amount of hydrocodone that is too much for your body and can cause overdose depends on whether you’ve been exposed to opioids or opiates in the past. In other words, the amount of hydrocodone that is too much for you will be higher if your body is already tolerant to hydrocodone, opiates, or opioids. As doctors increase doses to accommodate patient tolerance, they consider a number of different variables, including your age, weight, general health, and any other medications you might be taking. So, how much hydrocodone is too much really depends on your body, health, etc.

Safe dosing levels of hydrocodone also depend on the particular formula you’re taking. Hydrocodone is available in different strengths, and typically has some other kind of drug mixed in which can be easier to OD on than hydrocodone alone (ex. acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.).

However, there are some basic guidelines you can follow. 90 mg of hydrocodone at one time is reported as the known lethal dose in medical literature. This is 9 times the maximum amount you might normally be prescribed. But don’t think that just because you’re only taking two or three hydrocodone pills that you’ll be fine – many formulas contain acetaminophen, which can cause severe liver damage at relatively low doses.

Hydrocodone overdose complications

The most dangerous complication of hydrocodone overdose is slow or shallow breathing. Hydrocodone overdose can cause breathing to slow down, become more shallow, and even stop. Other medications combined with the hydrocodone may also cause overdose, or make these effects more pronounced.

Hydrocodone overdose prognosis

Hydrocodone overdose can be deadly. If you find yourself in an emergency hydrocodone overdose situation, prognosis and recovery without long term damage is possible if breathing has not been compromised. Sometimes doctors will even give you medicine to help reverse the effects of hydrocodone toxicity. In a more serious case of hydrocodone overdose, your doctor may administer oxygen to help you breath better. Even if you survive, the lack of oxygen reaching your brain can cause permanent brain damage, particularly if you don’t receive immediate help.

Hydrocodone overdose death rate

Can you die from hydrocodone?  Yes. Unintentional hydrocodone deaths by overdose are unfortunately on the rise.  Part of this is simply because there’s been a nationwide increase in the use of narcotic painkillers.  Overdose and death are more likely in men than women, and both genders are more likely to experience overdose in the working years of their lives. Prescriptions for higher doses of hydrocodone increase the risk of overdose dramatically. And the misuse and abuse of hydrocodone by recreational drug users accounts for a larger portion of the increase in drug poisoning deaths. You can find more up-to-date information about the mortality rate from hydrocodone toxic poisoning, or overdose, by searching the National Vital Statistics System for mortality due to hydrocodone drug overdose.

Hydrocodone overdose amount questions

Any kind of hydrocodone abuse will pose the risk of death and overdose. Note that hydrocodone should only be taken swallowed as a whole pill, and only in the doses recommended by your doctor. You’re increasing your risk of overdose when you chew, crush, snort or inject hydrocodone.

If you have any questions about safe amounts of hydrocodone in your system, please leave them here. We are happy to try to help answer your questions about hydrocodone, and will try to respond with a personal and prompt reply for all legitimate queries.

Reference sources: DEA: Hydrocodone
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
Toxnet: Hydrocodone

FDA Safety Communication: Prescription Acetaminophen Products to be Limited to 325 mg Per Dosage Unit; Boxed Warning Will Highlight Potential for Severe Liver Failure

Photo credit: allisonturrell

Leave a Reply

35 Responses to “Hydrocodone overdose: How much amount of hydrocodone to OD?
kevin
8:04 pm November 15th, 2012

What happens if a woman, approx. 5’5″ 130 lbs., takes about (14) tablets of hydrocodone 5/500.

2:09 pm November 19th, 2012

Hi Kevin. If she does not receive medical care, slowed breathing or heart rate, eventual lack of oxygen to the brain or death can occur. She may also experience liver damage or failure from excessive amounts of acetaminophen.

There is no home treatment for opioid overdose. Seek immediate medical help. An opioid blocker like naltrexone can be injected to try to counter the effects of such an overdose, but in any case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 for more information.

Beth
4:51 am March 31st, 2013

Hi I accidentally took two hydrocodone 5-500 pills in less than six hours by accident. I had my wisdom teeth all four pulled out on monday, and I’m terrrified I’m going to die in the next few hours. I didn’t remember taking the second one till I got home from my grandparents house and by the time I realized I had, it was two late…will I be ok?

6:27 am March 31st, 2013

Hi Beth. Most immediate release doses of hydrocodone wear off anywhere from 4-6 hours after use. You should be OK, but if you feel badly, or notice signs of slowed breathing, call the ER. Or the Poison Control center for more help (see phone number above).

Grace
12:40 pm May 1st, 2013

What if a woman thats 5’4″ ad 120lbs takes six hydrocodone?

1:09 pm May 2nd, 2013

Hi Grace. Call the Poison Control Center for an evaluation and to see whether or not it is necessary to visit the emergency room.

Nick
8:41 am May 21st, 2013

I tool 5 10/325 norcos throughout the day for back pain. I took 2 at 11 AM, 1 at 3 PM, and 2 more at 8 PM. Now after reading all this info online I’m afraid to go to sleep BC I don’t want to die. I’m 5 7 and 300 pounds. Will I be Ok?

Nick
8:43 am May 21st, 2013

Also, its 1:30 AM now, so its been 5 hours since I took the last 2.

1:16 pm May 21st, 2013

Hi Nick. Call the Poison Control Center immediately for a consultation.

Joann
1:32 am June 8th, 2013

My sisters husband died in january, We have just got autopsy report back, he died of hyd. overdose. He had been over medicating on his prescriptions for a while. My question is, if she had called for help in the morning when she first seen that he was over medicated, could he have lived. She had seen him like that so many times with no problems. She did not realize that he was very sick until he fell down in the afternoon then took four breaths and died. He was on a lot of different medicines, all of which he abused. We do not know how many he took, but we do know it was 90 in 5 days. He had been doing this for a long time. Why would this kill him now when he had been doing the same thing for a few years. She had sent him to treatment centers before, but he always ended up abusing the prescriptions. Thanks

5:25 am June 11th, 2013

Hi Joann. I am sorry to hear of your loss. Over time, the body simply cannot handle the stress of depressant or stimulant medication, and literally can be shut down. In terms of a hydrocodone overdose, this is what happens. The body slowly shuts down, stops breathing or the heart stops beating. The chemical signals triggered by hydrocodone are responsible….and if he was taking 90+ different medications int he days before he passed, your brother in law was probably heavily sedated.

Lindsey
4:20 pm June 11th, 2013

I am a home health aid to an 80 year old woman who weighs 97 pounds. She takes hydrocodone for fibromyalgia. She insists on taking twice the recommended dose. I am not authorized to give medication exceeding doctor’s dosage. I’m concerned that she might take too many and OD. She just switched to hydro. She used to take Tylenol 3. So, she hasn’t been on this medicine long. I’ve been looking online for some type of guidelines, like a chart for how many mg of hydro per pound of body weight an 80 year old body can withstand to give to the woman’s daughter, who is inclined to give the old woman all the meds she wants. Any advice for me?

12:02 pm July 5th, 2013

Hello Lindsey. I’d suggest that you phone in the situation to your client’s prescribing doctor. You’ll need to report her increase in dosage and seek professional medical advice.

Barbara
2:30 am July 19th, 2013

Can anyone explain how one small dose in hospital post surgery could cause respiratory and cardiac arrest? This happened with codeine, also with propoxyphene and hydrocodone (that was lowest dose cut in half). Being unable to tolerate any opiates (synthetic or otherwise) makes for excruciating surgeries.

Rachael
10:00 pm July 22nd, 2013

What if I took two hydro 7.5 at one time and my brain feels weird dizzy and weird camt really describe it what is that and how do I get rid of that feeling?

11:11 am July 23rd, 2013

Hi Rachael. Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 to get some personalized medical advice.

C dowell
2:33 am December 16th, 2013

I have rheumatoid arthritis, since 3 months old and I’m now 41. I took hydrocodone 7mg this morning at 9am and then again at 1pm and once again at 8:30pm. I weigh 125 lbs and am 5’6 feet tall. It also has acetaminophen in it, was this too much to take in 24 hrs?

4:09 am December 23rd, 2013

Hi C. You’ll need to consult with a pharmacist about this; or call the Poison Control Center for more information (phone number listed above).

Nicole
1:17 am January 12th, 2014

Hi I’m 85 lbs, female, Asian, and 4’11″, I took 9 hydrocodone 5/325 for wisdom tooth pain,1 1/12 at 7 AM, 1 1/2 at 10 AM, the pain got worse, so 3 at 2 PM, and 3 at 6 PM. I’m afraid that I’ll die, will I be okay???

Dwayne
8:16 pm January 19th, 2014

Hi, I was prescribed tussionex /hydrocodone syrup for the flu and congestion. I was told by the doctor to take a teaspoon every 12 hours. I took a tablespoon. then looked at the bottle again and it said teaspoon. It was like 15 minutes ago. I’m freaked out. Will this harm me?

1:02 pm January 20th, 2014

Hello Dwayne. Call the Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect overdose for immediate medical advice.

adrain
8:43 am January 21st, 2014

My friend took 2 300 mg of tylenol 3 and she is 5’5 and 120 pounds will she be okay she feela reallh tired

1:37 pm January 22nd, 2014

Hello Adrain. If you suspect that your friend is experiencing acute effects of Tylenol 3, it’s a good idea to seek medical help. Call your local poison control center or an emergency room to get recommendations for next steps on what to do.

Alex
9:41 pm February 2nd, 2014

I have a friend who already knows shes at risk from this but how dangerously close to death or permanent damage if she is 5′ 6” 117 lbs and takes five 7mg pills at once and then two later ? and how bad is 11 of those over the course of eight hours ? She’s been abusing them for about four years. As well as the overall effect from not just taking many at once but doing so and taking multiples later ? I’m really concerned for her and would reall appreciate a prompt reply. Thank you for any help.

Alex
9:45 pm February 2nd, 2014

This is for hydrocodone, I don’t know if its mixed with anything or what with.

12:59 pm February 4th, 2014

Hello Alex. It’s likely that your friend has developed a high tolerance for opioids…but the chronic dosing is of concern and can indicate addiction. And then there’s the abuse: using hydrocodone to get high. Opioids can cause long term effects to internal organs but the real issue is quality of life. When you’re addicted to a drug, you’re avoiding psycho-emotional issues which are difficult to face. Have you thought of scheduling an intervention for your friend?

Teresa
12:29 am February 16th, 2014

I take Norco 10 325 for RA Fibro and Cronic pain..Ive been on meds for 5 yrs now and have gotten used to the doseage so it doesn’t work anymore so this morning my pain was so bad at 9am I took 4 10 325 pills and at 4 I took another 4 pills but its 630pm and im still in pian and was going to take another one will it hurt me? that’s 9 in the day..thatnk you

guerra richard
2:11 pm March 24th, 2014

i take 10 mgs of hydrocodone for severe hip pain,, i took a whole 10 mgs and ten split one in two and took the half–i have a hip problem bone on bone pain–the med is prescribed fby the va, i am a viet nam vet, is this tow much for me? the pain was getting more pain ful that is why i took 15 mgs of the narcotic with 325 mgs acem.etophine, i am 5 ft 8 semi muscular active, and weigh 225 pounds am 62 yrs old–is this an over dose? i am alert but calm, no shallow breathing,

Kat
11:27 pm May 31st, 2014

I am 225, I took about 8-9 at once just now.
What should I expect ?

Kathy gudenau
2:16 pm June 1st, 2014

My niece recently passed away from a hydrocodone overdose . Her level of hydrocodone was 340 ng/ml on a scale that starts at 130. But what we don’t know is how many Norco that would equate to. We are trying to figure out how many she took. If anyone can help me figure this out I would appreciate it. Thanks

Carolyn
1:19 pm August 12th, 2014

I am a 64 year old female with cancer and I’m under hospice care I am on hydrocodone 10.325 take every 4 hrs for the severe pain. I am scared to take a lot of this drug because I have h read so much about addiction and toxciticy. I am in severe back pain and colon pain as I have colon cancer. Should I be concerned.

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
3:35 pm August 12th, 2014

Hi Carolyn. I believe it’s best for you to talk to a doctor or a pharmacist at your local pharmacy for the potential side-effects and risks. Hydrocodone is bad when abused and used other than prescribed by a doctor. However, in your case it seems the benefits are greater than the risks of taking hydrocodone.

Justin
9:06 am August 27th, 2014

Kathy g 340mg if they were 10 mg hydrocodone it’d be 34 pills if they were 5s it’d be 68 pills I’m in school for pharmaceutical technician honestly she probably Passed because of the acetaminophen you overdose first off of acetaminophen before the hydrocodone And I am sorry for your loss as for the rest of you that are scared for taking hydrocodone as long as you’re taking hydrocodone 10/325.4 to 6 a day is nothing to worry about as long as you do not exceed 4000 mg acetaminophen in a day

Steven
8:18 am August 29th, 2014

I took two 5/325 mg vicodins at 11 this morning. Then at 6 PM I took two 7.5/325 mg vicodin. Then at 8:50 PM I took 250mgs of tramadol then at 11:57pm I took one more vicodin 7.5/325. Momentarily I noticed that everything looked small and far away but passed. I do have a high tolerance to tramadol but I don’t take vicodin very often…will I be okay to sleep? Its 2:17 AM right now and I’ve ate today.

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
2:37 pm September 1st, 2014

Hi Steven. Call the Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for immediate medical advice from a poison expert. They will provide a free over-the-phone assessment of the risk of overdose and give you instructions on what to do next.

Leave a Reply