Drug overdose is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with over 800,000 dying yearly from accidental overdoses. This number continues to rise as prescription, and illicit drugs become more accessible worldwide. With stricter regulation and education about drug use on the rise, understanding why people are overdosing on various drugs is becoming increasingly important.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how these drugs work in our bodies, how they lead to overdoses, and ways to help prevent them.
We’ll also explore some support options available if you or someone close to you have recently become addicted to certain substances to achieve sober living LA.
Stay tuned for tips on dealing with substance abuse while learning more about the risks associated with drug overdose!
Overdose? Don’t panic
Drugs interact with the body in various ways, from pain relief to increase alertness. As a result, overdosing on certain medications can lead to serious health consequences.
The most expected overdose drugs include opioids (prescription or illegal), stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. Opioids are a particular concern since they have a high potential for misuse and can be very addictive.
When taken in large doses, these drugs can cause breathing difficulty, seizures, coma, and even death if not treated quickly.
Understanding How Drugs Work
Drugs work by binding to specific receptors in our cells. Different drugs interact with different types of receptors in the body, causing various effects. For example, opioids work primarily by activating receptors in the brain and spinal cord to block pain signals and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, act as “uppers” by increasing energy levels and alertness. Depressants, like alcohol, slow down the central nervous system, causing relaxation and sleepiness.
Hallucinogens, like LSD or ecstasy, alter perception and mood by affecting the brain’s serotonin system.
How Overdose Occurs
Drug overdoses usually occur when a person takes too much of a drug for their body to be able to process it. This can cause their body to become overloaded, leading to serious health problems.
Sometimes, a drug overdose may happen accidentally when someone is unaware of how much they’re taking or doesn’t realize that the drug is more potent than expected. In other cases, overdoses may occur intentionally as part of a suicide attempt.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful prescription opioid that’s sometimes prescribed for pain relief.
Fentanyl is often illicitly manufactured and sold on the street in counterfeit pills or mixed with heroin and other drugs. It’s hazardous because it can be up to 100 times more potent than other opioids, so even small doses can cause an overdose.
What is Naloxone?
A drug called naloxone can undo the consequences of an opioid overdose. It works by blocking the receptors in our cells that opioids bind to, preventing them from affecting our bodies.
Naloxone is available as a nasal spray or injection and must be given quickly after an overdose is suspected to prevent death or other serious health problems.
Trends in U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths (1999-2021)
As claimed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths in the U.S. more than tripled from 1999 to 2021. In 2021, over 90,000 people died from a drug overdose, with opioids responsible for two-thirds of those deaths.
The CDC also notes that overdoses involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have been increasing in recent years, likely due to their availability on the streets.
Drug overdoses from non-opioids also increased from 2020 to 2021, including a 34% increase in overdose deaths involving psychostimulants (primarily methamphetamine) (338 in 2020 to 454 in 2021) and an 81% increase in overdose deaths involving cocaine (85 in 2020 to 154 in 2021).
Preventing an Overdose
The best way to prevent a drug overdose is by avoiding drugs altogether. If you’re already using drugs, some methods can help reduce your risk of an overdose.
First, start with a low dose and work slowly until you find the right amount for yourself. Second, avoid mixing drugs with alcohol or other substances, as this can increase your risk of overdose. Finally, seek help from a doctor or treatment center if you think you may be addicted to drugs.
How Can Schools and Youth Programs Help?
Schools and youth programs have an essential role in helping prevent drug overdoses. By educating students about the dangers of drugs, offering resources for those at risk, and providing access to treatment programs, schools and youth organizations can help ensure that young people stay safe from an overdose.
Additionally, school-based prevention programs such as LifeSkills can help equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to resist drug use and make healthier choices.
By being proactive about prevention, schools and youth programs can help create a safe environment for everyone in the community. That’s why schools and youth organizations must act against substance abuse and addiction. This can include providing education on the dangers of drugs, offering resources to those in need, and ensuring everyone has access to treatment programs.
What Parents Should Know
As a parent, you must be aware of the dangers of drug overdoses and what you can do to protect your child. Make sure your kids know the dangers of drugs and that they know there will be severe repercussions.
Make sure your home is safe by ensuring that all medications are stored securely and never shared with others. You should also be aware of the signs of an overdose and know how to respond quickly and appropriately in the event one occurs. Finally, you can help prevent overdoses by staying informed about drug trends, talking to your children about drugs and alcohol, and getting them help if needed.
Support Options Available For Addicts
If you or someone you know is fighting drug addiction, many options are available for support. Treatment centers and recovery programs can provide professional help in a safe and supportive environment. Some support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, offer peer-to-peer counseling and guidance. Recovery support services can lead to better long-term outcomes, mainly when available in communities where they are needed.
In addition, various organizations offer resources to help those suffering from addiction, such as housing assistance, job training, and financial aid. No matter what type of support is needed, there are many different avenues to get help. Substance use disorder is curable and preventable, and recovery is possible.
Drug overdoses are a serious public health problem, and it’s essential to be aware of the dangers and ways to prevent them. By understanding the risks of prescription opioids and taking proactive steps, we can make a real difference in saving lives. Schools and youth programs have an essential role to play in helping prevent drug overdoses through education, resources, and access to treatment. Parents must also stay informed about the dangers of drugs and be aware of how to respond if an overdose occurs.
Finally, there are many support options available for those struggling with addiction, and recovery is possible. By taking the necessary steps to prevent drug overdoses, we can make sure that everyone in our community stays safe.