Drug Overdose Deaths Urge Nation: Are You Overdose Aware?

Honoring Loved Ones Lost to Drug Overdose

Each year on August 31st, International Overdose day is held and supported by communities around the globe that have been impacted by drug overdose.

This day is in aim to raise awareness on the issue of overdose and the stigma attached to drug abuse.

“Thousands of people die each year from drug related causes. They come from all walks of life.”

Holding an annual event throughout the world and its communities in honor of the lives lost, gives friends and family an opportunity to find healing through a shared understanding of grief, love and support.

In remembrance of those we have lost to the disease of addiction, knowing that you are not alone is certainly as painful as it is relieving.

Why Drug Overdose Awareness?

The importance of International Overdose Awareness day can be understood with one word: Hope. While the threats of long-term drug abuse are familiar to most, the risks associated with short-term abuse often go unnoticed.

An increasing and prevalent issue in society, throughout the world today, is the danger of overdose associated with short-term drug abuse.

In 2016, a minimum of 190,000 people worldwide died from drug-related overdose.

– 2017 World Drug Report

Today, amidst the global drug crisis and Opioid epidemic, there is hope, but that hope does not come without hard work and dedication to overdose prevention. The only way to prevent overdose is to bring awareness to the issue and educate communities on how to identify and properly handle drug overdose.

Stigma of Addiction

For those who know the pain of losing a loved one, overdose awareness day is a chance to fight back against the stigma of drug addiction and drug-related death.

Generally, family, friends and public opinion carry a negative and shameful outlook on drug addiction or even engaging in such behavior. The stigma associated with addiction and substance abuse is beyond powerful and is harmful to those who need treatment.

Over 21.7 million people who needed substance abuse treatment in the past year never received services.

-SAMHSA, 2015

The stigma surrounding addiction is a major public health concern. Stigma alone contributes to the increasing rate of overdose deaths, incarceration as well as mental health problems among those addicted.

It results in avoidance, prejudice, discrimination and rejection of individuals stuck in the chains of addiction and diminishes their ability to access treatment services.

How Many People Die from Drugs Each Year?

The national rate of drug overdose deaths is high, accounting for over one quarter of the estimated drug-related fatalities worldwide, including overdose deaths, and that number is only continuing to rise.

Between the years of 1999 to 2015, the number of drug-related overdose deaths in the U.S. more than tripled, with the driving force being Opioids.

More specifically, the 2017 World Drug report indicates that drug-related overdose deaths jumped from 16,849 in 1999 to over 52,400 in 2015.

In the U.S., in 2016, it is estimated that more than 64,000 Americans died from drug-related overdose.

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of drug- related overdose fatalities jumped by 21 percent last year alone. Moreover, the rate of synthetic-Opioid overdose deaths more than doubled.

Being Overdose Aware in Phoenix, Arizona

To support overdose awareness day in 2017, a collaborative effort was made by community members at a local recovery meeting space, Studio 164 and a local treatment center, A Better Today Recovery Services.

In an aim to make a difference in the lives of individuals impacted by addiction, family members, friends and members of the local recovery community in Phoenix joined together to make the event possible.

“An average of two Arizonans die each day from an opioid overdose.”

Over the past four years, the rate of drug overdose deaths in Arizona have risen by 74 percent. Additionally, reports from the Arizona Department of Health Services, indicate that the state now ranks the 6th highest in the nation for drug-overdose deaths, as well as prescription drug abuse.

Drug overdose deaths, including synthetic Opioids  and Heroin, have pushed Arizona into an Opioid overdose public health emergency as of 2017.

‘Fifteen opioid-suspected deaths were recorded last week in Arizona… 191 opioid overdose cases overall recorded from June 15-22.’

-AZ Central, June 2017

In gathering together, these community members have acted to evoke change in the conversation about drug addiction and overdose prevention. Taking time out of your everyday life to pay attention to the impact addiction has on people, just like you, is the key to making a difference and preventing the steady climb that is drug-overdose deaths.

What’s an Overdose?

An overdose, commonly referred to as an OD, occurs when a person uses a drug or a combination of drugs in an amount that is toxic and overwhelming to his or her body.

“For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses now are the leading cause of death.”

– U.S. Department of Justice, 2017

Most drug overdoses are accidental, even though intentional overdose is always a possibility. An overdose can result from a range of substances from alcohol and street drugs to over the counter or prescription drugs.

U.S. Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid epidemic is alive and thriving in the U.S. today. Beginning with the misuse and abuse of prescription Opioid Painkillers, many Americans have found themselves addicted and unable to break free from this life-threatening problem.

As a category, Opioids include prescription Painkillers, synthetic Opioids like Fentanyl or Morphine and Heroin, among several others.

Reports from the CDC indicate that 61 percent of drug overdose deaths in America are due to Opioids.

The Opioid epidemic in the U.S. has proven to be detrimental, and ultimately, a national crisis. This Opioid driven crisis affects the overall public health of our nation, as well as the economic and social welfare of its citizens.

Each day, in the U.S., there are over 90 American Opioid-related overdose fatalities; action must be taken.

Moreover, the economic burden caused by prescription Opioid abuse alone is estimated at $78.5 billion annually. The economic burden includes not only healthcare costs, but addiction treatment, criminal justice involvement and lost productivity.

Overdose-Reversing Drug Naloxone

Over the past few years, the popularity of Naloxone for Opioid overdose has risen significantly alongside the rate of Opioid-related overdose deaths. Naloxone is a prescription medication created to reverse Opioid overdose at a rapid rate.

This overdose reversal drug is called an Opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists work by binding to the Opioid receptors, reversing and blocking the effects of any other type of Opioid.

Naloxone can restore a person’s respiratory system to normal if breathing has slowed to a fatal degree or stopped completely from an overdose on prescription Painkillers or Heroin.

There are three forms of Naloxone approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA’s approved forms of Naloxone include an injectable form, an auto-injector and a prepackaged nasal spray.

The demand for Naloxone is at an all-time high in the U.S. Many states have equipped and prepared first responders from law enforcement to local community members with the proper resources needed to save a life from overdose.

Addiction and Overdose Prevention

It has taken our society quite some time to admit the truth about the nature of drug addiction. It is a psychological and physiological disruption, not a lack of morality or behavioral discipline.

According to reports from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most overdoses in the U.S. today occur in individuals from age 18 to 26.

With the Opioid epidemic thriving and taking more lives each and every day, it is important to understand what addiction really is and how to assist those impacted by it.

Now more than ever, family and friends living amongst an addicted loved one’s need to understand the nature of an overdose and get properly educated on prevention.

If you or someone you love is impacted by the disease of addiction, call us at (866)-578-7471- reach out and get the help you need.

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