An Adrenaline Rush To Death!

Adrenaline is our friend! It’s one of those hormones that flood our bodies when werun severely injure ourselves, feel afraid, or do strenuous exercise. It’s known as “the fight or flight hormone” (along with some help from norepinephrine and dopamine). And it’s interchangeably referred to as adrenaline or epinephrine.

But what happens when too much pours into our bloodstream? We DIE! And that makes for a very interesting method of murder and can become the basis of a dramatic murder scene in writing.

We’ve all experienced an adrenaline rush in some form or another. From whatever cause, when our adrenal glands pump adrenaline (epinephrine) into our bloodstream, we experience: 1) a noticeable increase in strength, 2) no feeling of pain, 3) heightened senses, 4) a sudden burst of energy, and 5) our breathing and heart rate increases.

Such symptoms of extra adrenaline in our bodies may be in response to extreme fear, a life-threatening trauma (either to ourselves or others), or as a result of competitive sports participation. It helps us think clearly, react rapidly and appropriately, and dulls pain when needed. This experience is known as an “adrenergic storm” and is the basis of the fight or flight reaction.

autoinjectorAdrenaline, as an epinephrine drug, also treats severe allergic reactions since the drug narrows blood vessels to raise falling blood pressure. It also opens airway passages that may be constricted with associated wheezing. And there are auto-injectors available for people who may experience such allergic reactions.

The drug is readily available in an intramuscular auto-injector mechanism as an adultepipen dose of 0.3mg (the 1:1000 strength). Since I have asthma, I carry around an injector. I’ve not used it for an asthmatic episode, but I did use it once while experiencing a rather dramatic reaction to an antibiotic.

An overdose of adrenaline (epinephrine) flooding into our bodies can be LETHAL. At times, we’ve seen news reports of medical professionals mistakenly administering a wrong dose of epinephrine and killing the patient.

There are also reports of people using epinephrine as a weapon of murder! And the consequences of an epinephrine overdose can lead to complete cardiac arrest.

Initially, there’s a rapid onset of agitation, blood pressure spikes, the heart beats fast and irregular, slurred speech and confusion ensue, sometimes a severe headache is experienced—and then the person cascades into either a cerebral hemorrhage or cardiac arrhythmias prior to death.

Meds4_Pre-med3Treatments to prevent the fatal outcome include administration of benzodiazepines and beta-blocker drugs, but administration should be timely since epinephrine acts rapidly, especially if it is given intravenously.

So, with a readily available source, rapid onset and a deadly outcome, adrenaline could easily transition from friend to foe and provide an interesting murder weapon. And it should create a rather dramatic murder scene involving either your protagonist or antagonist.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

About James J. Murray, Fiction Writer

With experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management, medications and their impact on one’s quality of life have been my expertise. My secret passion of murder and mayhem, however, is a whole other matter. I’ve always loved reading murder mysteries and thrillers, and longed to weave such tales of my own. Drawing on my clinical expertise as a pharmacist and my infatuation with the lethal effects of drugs, my tales of murder, mayhem and medicine will have you looking over your shoulder and suspicious of anything in your medicine cabinet.
This entry was posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Murder, Adrenaline Overdose, Adrenaline Rush, Adrenaline Used For Murder, Adrenoline and The Fight or Flight Response, All About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Bloodless Death Scenes, Chemicals Used For Murder, Dramatic Murder Weapons, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used to Murder, Epinephrine and The Fight or Flight Response, Epinephrine Overdose, Epinephrine Used for Murder, How To Write A BloodLess Murder Scene, Ideas for Murder Scenes, Interesting Murder Weapons, Killing a Villain in a Novel, Lethal Agents and Murder, Misuse of Drugs, Murder With Drugs, New Methods of Murder, Plotting Murder Scenes, Prescription For Murder Blog, The Science of Murder, Tools of Murder, Using Adrenaline in a Murder Scene, Using Epinephrine in a Murder Scene, Writing Death Scenes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to An Adrenaline Rush To Death!

  1. Those symptoms sound very much like the reaction of a smitten young man to meeting a beautiful young woman, the subject of his attention. (Hey, my adrenalin pump may have slowed down a tad, but I can still remember that far back!) Great article, James. Thanks.

  2. Luis says:

    My son is experiencing Adrenaline Storms lately, and it’s a real nightmare. He is autistic, non-verbal, and can’t tell us what he is passing through ! He starts hyperventilating and attacks us with a huge violence. We are trying to understand this better and a doctor has prescribed an alpha-adrenergic blocker (Zyprexa), but we are still struggling against this disease.

  3. Luke Winters says:

    Hi James – great article (and site), thanks. I’m currently working on a book, and this is exactly how my murderer did the deed…!

  4. Ysha Bates says:

    Hi James,

    I like Luke above am attempting to write a book in which Adrenaline is the murder weapon. My question is, how hard is it to detect as a “murder weapon”? In order to solve the murder I need the information so that it seems realistic and not far fetched like some of the stupid TV shows you see all the time.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Well, an overdose of adrenaline certainly would leave some clinical evidence behind in the victim’s blood. There would be telltale signs of excessive adrenaline in the body and probably a good medical examiner would be able to find the point of entry (a needle mark) somewhere on the body. However, I’m sure an imaginative writer could divert such evidence away from a cleaver fictional villain and possibly mutilate the body at the point of entry to prevent detection of a needle mark. The best of luck in plotting and writing your story.

  5. Anon says:

    Adrenaline overdose was the method used to kill in Million Dollar Baby

  6. Pingback: The Physiological Effects of Stress on the Human Body -

  7. Pratzel says:

    Can we say it takes more than a half day to cause fatal effects to occur? So that they can be saved in cases of overdose

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