The most current numbers from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that in 2018 almost 69,000 Americans fatally overdosed. An estimated 47,590 involved opioids, and 31,897 involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and tramadol. These numbers are out of control. Drugs and drug use has changed in recent years. The amount of overdoses is back on the rise. The number of fatal overdoses has more than tripled since 1990. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/index.html
An overdose is when the human body receives too much of a substance or mixture of substances. Different drugs can cause different effects in the body. Opioids slow the body down. With an opioid overdose, a person will begin to lose consciousness and stop breathing. However, with a methamphetamine overdose the heart becomes overwhelmed sometimes resulting in a heart stroke. A meth overdose can also cause a sharp rise in blood pressure that leads to hemorrhage. Liver failure is common in chronic drug addicts and alcoholics, leaving the body weak and unhealthy.
There has been a rise in fentanyl overdoses. There are a few different reasons for this. Synthetic drugs, like fentanyl or tramadol, are much more potent and smaller amounts are needed to get the desired effect. Because these synthetic drugs can be made illegally, these drugs are becoming more and more dangerous. People who make illegal drugs or drug dealers are adding this illegally made fentanyl into street drugs causing the number of overdoses to rise. When addicts are using street drugs- they just do not know what they are inhaling, ingesting, or injecting. Fentanyl is being added to street-pressed pills like xanax, heroin, even meth.
Overdose prevention is taking the spotlight. There is a lot of money being put into education, training, and harm reduction. Some of the best ways to prevent overdoses are improved medication prescribing, prevention of misuse of prescriptions, and educating medical professionals and drug users alike. We are making progress with life-saving- non-addictive drugs, like Naloxone. Naloxone is a medication called an “opioid antagonist” used to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Naloxone may be injected in the muscle, vein or under the skin, or sprayed into the nose. Medical professionals, first responders, and drug users alike now have access to educate themselves on how to properly administer this drug.
Another way to prevent an overdose is treatment. The first step for some may be rehab. An inpatient program may be the first place to begin their treatment. A safe environment is very important when getting clean. It is the best stepping stone to continued sobriety. There are also MAT programs (medication- assisted therapy). MAT is a way to address individual needs that combines medications (Methadone, Suboxone, Vivitrol) and counseling or therapy. Counseling and therapy are so important during treatment. There is group therapy and individual therapy. Group therapy is helpful because it’s important for a person going through addiction recovery to participate in group therapy. It helps develop positive relationships, practice social skills, and learn from peers. Individual therapy is extremely important because it cultivates a positive relationship between a person working on their addiction and their therapist. According to research done by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration), a person with a trusting and supportive relationship with their therapist is more likely to complete treatment and stay sober long- term.
Fatal overdoses have become much too common- in all age groups. The number of teenage overdoses is rising. According to NIDA for Teens in 2015, the numbers started increasing. It rose to 3.7 deaths for every 100,000 teens. That translates to 772 teenage overdose deaths in 2015. 2015 is the most recent year for which data is available. America’s youth is at risk.
Overdosing has been a massive problem and this problem is growing. Regardless of what substance is being abused, addiction kills thousands of people a year and impacts millions of lives.
The New Year is here. If you or anyone you know needs help- call anytime. 800-723-7376. You can help save your life or help save the life of someone you love.