Overdose is the most serious side effect of drug and alcohol abuse. Yet it continues to be underplayed by addicts and society at large. Why is this?
Though users know that overdose is a risk, they tend to shrug it off and act like it won’t happen to them. You probably know someone who has assured you that they have their drug or alcohol use under control, or that they know how to use it in a “responsible” manner and therefore won’t overdose. This is one of the big lies that addicts tell themselves and others, as they want to continue using their drug of choice without facing the reality that it could kill them.
As for society, some believe that overdose is a natural side effect of addiction; a punishment for immoral behavior, so to speak. Therefore, when an addict dies because of their “choices,” the punishment is warranted. This leaves the friends and families of deceased addicts feeling devastated and lost. Almost as if their loved one’s death wasn’t significant. Imagine how many families suffer in silence because they don’t have a community to share in their grief?
No one is exempt from addiction. Even if it’s not you personally, it could be a son or daughter, spouse or parent. A teacher, coach, or even your doctor. We should be working together to save lives, not dehumanize those who lose their fight to addiction. Death is not a punishment for addiction. No one deserves to die alone. And when you understand just how frequent overdose deaths are, you’ll see that this is a problem that affects America as a whole – not just a few families here and there.
Overdosing is THE Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the U.S.
Overdosing is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. It accounts for more deaths than traffic fatalities, gun homicides, or suicides. The rate of overdosing has increased significantly over the last 15 years, too. According to the CDC, there were 38,329 fatal drug overdoses in 2010 compared to 16,849 in 1999. This is due, in part, to the rise in prescription drug abuse.
When you consider that some 38,000 people die each year from drug overdoses and some 35,000 die from traffic accidents, it puts things into perspective. Yet those who overdose on drugs seem to get far less compassion and understanding. They aren’t featured on social media or local news stations. Instead, many of their deaths go by without much sympathy at all.
Sadly, many drug abusers spend their last minutes here on Earth abusing drugs or alcohol. Many die alone. Others die alongside negligent friends or acquaintances. It’s certainly not the end that people plan for, but it happens every day. To 100 people a day, in fact. That’s 100 people who are leaving behind a shattered family and a recent legacy of drug use, stealing, lies, and heartbreak.
People Most Likely to Overdose
Just about every illicit drug can be overdosed on. While no one is exempt from overdosing, some people are more likely to suffer this fate than others. They include:
- Those who binge on alcohol and drugs
- Those who relapse after treatment
- Those who mix substances
- Those who suffer from mental illness
- Those who have taken a break from using
How People Overdose (It’s Not What You Think)
Not all people who die from drugs or alcohol have spent a night partying and using excessive drugs. In fact, stories of unusually strong doses of drugs that lead to overdose are typically overblown. When the toxicology report is run, it’s often found that the user took the same dose as usual, or even slightly lower.
The more common scenario is that the person had a loss of tolerance. They may have been released from treatment or spent time in jail. They suffer a moment of weakness and end up taking the same amount of drugs as they used to, only it’s too much for their body to handle.
Another common way to overdose is by mixing substances. Say a person drinks alcohol, which lowers the body’s ability to tolerate opiates. They then take opiate-like heroin or oxycontin and end up overdosing. It’s not one particular drug that led to the overdose but a combination. This is frightening because it makes the initial problem harder to identify and treat. Rather than trying to help those who just use cocaine or alcohol, we now have a generation of people who use all types of drugs and won’t hesitate to mix them for greater effect.
Overdose is not reserved for some and not others. It can happen to anyone, even recreational users. It’s important that addicts get evidence-based treatment at a trusted facility like The River Source to avoid the risk of overdose. It’s also important that we start treating drug addiction and its associated risks as real problems, not just unfortunate circumstances that happen to a select few. Statistically, you are more likely to know someone who died from a drug overdose rather than a car accident.