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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Overdose 4 Years Ago Affecting Current Health

01/20/2011

Question:

My husband overdosed on a combination of pain, anxiety, and nonperscribed drugs five years ago. He since has recognized he his addiction and considers himself a recovering addict. He is still however mediated to pain meds for injury to his back that happened before the overdose about 7 years ago. His meds currently include Hydrocodone 10mg/500mg, Generic Flexeril 10mg, and Hydrochlorothiazide 25mg. The last med is for high blood pressure (as you probably know), he is a relatively healthy 30 year old male whose height is 6`2", and weight is 156. But his blood pressure frequently has been 180/140. Doctors have prescribed him this med stating his high blood pressure is the result of among stress, chronic pain. He is a smoker, and is currently trying to quit, but my question refers back to his overdose. At the time while he was in the hospital after the overdose the doctors kept referring to his kidney and pancreas (?) numbers, I wondered if the damage done to these as a result of his overdose and long term exposure to drugs could also have something to do with his blood pressure issues? If so how can this be addressed? 

Also, as you can imagine as a result of his overdose finding insurance for him has been extremely difficult. He was covered by a employer based insurance while working for a bigger company; but over the last 4 years has been working for a small business owner, who does not offer insurance for all employees. He has provided state subsidized insurance for him, but they recently dropped him because of income level; now he is currently uninsured, so prescriptions have been minimalized as far as what he really needs and what can be afforded (high blood pressure med options play into this issue). I just thought that info may be pertinent when it comes to options you may have for his situation.

Answer:

Thank you for your good question. Certainly an over-dose can cause damage to kidneys, liver or pancreas. However, at least the kidney and liver damage, though potentially extreme are typically reversible and leave no long term effect. This is hard to imagine since the kidney damage can lead to short term renal failure and even dialysis. So the answer is really "no", the overdose and years of substance abuse should not have any or at most only limited effect on high blood pressure.

The pancreas, brain and heart damage that can come from an over-dose tend to be less reversible. However an overdose should not cause any changes in blood pressure unless they were so extreme that it caused heart failure, which would lead to low blood pressure.

I hope this helps. Please ask again if more information is needed.

For more information:

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University