Heroin overdose: causes and consequences

M Warner-Smith*, S Darke, M Lynskey, W Hall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

301 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Over the past decade fatal opioid overdose has emerged as a major public health issue internationally. This paper examines the risk factors for overdose from a biomedical perspective. while significant risk factors for opioid overdose fatality are well recognized, the mechanism of fatal overdose remains unclear. Losses of tolerance and concomitant use of alcohol and other CNS depressants clearly play a major role in fatality; howeve, such risk factors do not account for the strong age and gender patterns observed consistently among victims of overdose. There is evidence that systemic disease may be more prevalent in users at greatest risk of overdose. We hypothesize that pulmonary and hepatic dysfunction resulting from such disease may increase susceptibility to both fatal and non-fatal overdose. Sequelae of non-fatal overdose are recognized in the clinical literature but few epidemiological data exist describing the burden of morbidity arising from such sequelae. The potential for overdose to cause persisting morbidity is reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)1113-1125
Number of pages13
JournalAddiction
Volume96
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2001

Keywords

  • INJECTING DRUG-USERS
  • NEW-SOUTH-WALES
  • MORPHINE CONCENTRATIONS
  • METHADONE-MAINTENANCE
  • COHORT TRENDS
  • PULMONARY COMPLICATIONS
  • NONFATAL OVERDOSE
  • NARCOTIC ADDICTS
  • OPIOID OVERDOSE
  • HEPATITIS-C

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