What actually causes death with a heroin overdose?

Two ways at least. I wish i had not seen this so often as a pathologist. Breathing may simply stop as a result of the drug. Or for some reason that we've not been able to figure out, the air spaces of the lungs suddenly fill with fluid. Foam gushes from the mouth and the user dies. I give families the comfort that witnesses to this event say it seems that the person does not suffer -- but who knows for sure?

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What causes death in a heroin overdose?

Two ways. Suppression of the drive to breathe is the more familiar. For reasons we do not understand, pulmonary edema may come on very rapidly and kill the person with a sudden eruption of foam from the mouth and suffocation. Neither is painful, but i hope that neither is something that you want. Good luck, and if you have lost someone, you have my sympathy. Read more...