Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, leading into September, National Recovery Month. Relapse (and unfortunately in some cases, subsequent overdose) is part of recovery and important to talk about.
2020 Overdose Rates
2020 was a very difficult year, and it had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths. While final numbers won’t be ready until the end of 2021, preliminary data shows that more than 93,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2020. That is up from 70,630 people in 2019—”the largest single-year percentage increase in the past two decades,” according to the Washington Post.
Relapse leaves people particularly vulnerable to overdose, as they may use the same dose they used before, but have a lowered tolerance. One way to reduce the risk of overdose is to practice harm reduction methods, such as carrying naloxone (brand name Narcan)—a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose and save someone’s life. This typically comes as an easy-to-use nasal spray, so that you don’t have to be a physician to administer it.
Always seek emergency medical assistance for the person as well; Narcan is not a substitute for medical care, but can keep the person alive while you await further assistance. You might use or encourage a loved one to use around other people, so that they can get help if needed. All of these methods help reduce the risk of an overdose becoming fatal.
Providing Education and Reducing Stigma
Education about these topics is important. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, “International Overdose Awareness Day aims to honor the lives lost to overdose and reduce the stigma associated with a substance-related passing. Through mourning and remembrance, people can celebrate the lives of their loved ones without shame. At the same time, it is an opportunity to educate people that overdose death is preventable and raise awareness about evidence-based practices like overdose education and naloxone Distribution.”
Stigma can keep people in cycles of shame that prevent them from entering recovery. It can also keep friends or family who are already mourning a tremendous loss from being able to process what happened. Overdose awareness day is about—as the name suggests—spreading awareness and education, but it is also about honoring the lives of those we’ve lost.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. We offer medications for opioid and alcohol use disorder (Suboxone and Vivitrol) to help gradually free you from substances. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.