Hydrocodone overdose: How much amount of hydrocodone to OD?

Hydrocodone overdose amount can occur in doses 90 mg or larger. More on how much amount of hydrocodone is safe for you and hydrocodone overdose here.

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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.

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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
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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