How to Prevent an Overdose

drug treatment in wilmington NCIn 2012, 41,502 people died of a drug overdose. That number increases every year. Drug overdoses are preventable if we can educate the public about the dangers of drug use and encourage addicts to get help by reducing the stigma surrounding substance abuse treatment.

International Overdose Awareness Day was created to educate people about this preventable tragedy. It will be held on August 31st, with events taking place all over the world. Organizers hope to provide useful information about how overdoses can be prevented through education and treatment for those with substance abuse problems.

The first step in preventing accidental drug overdose is educating people about the importance of taking proper dosages of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs.  The most common drugs in overdose cases are OTC medicines.  Many people take more than the recommended dose or mix several drugs, which can lead to an accidental overdose.

When it comes to illegal drugs, as much as we would like people to not use them, it is important that if they are going to use them, they do it responsibly.  The North Carolina Harm Reduction Center (NCHRC) creates programs like the Overdose Prevention Project that aims to prevent fatal overdoses by talking with drug users about the risks of using illegal substance, the signs of an overdose and how to respond to someone who has overdosed.

The organization suggests that a person is more likely to overdose when these situations are a factor:

•  The person is alone.
•  He or she has just been released from jail or a drug detox program.
•  If a person is sick or has liver disease, kidney disease, HIV or AIDs.
•  If he or she hasn’t used drugs in a while.
•  If there is a rush in the process of taking the drug.
•  If the person doesn’t know exactly what drug is being ingested.

The NCHRC also offers tips on preventing overdoses, stating that the best way to not overdose is to not do drugs, but if a person does, then these recommendations can possibly prevent one:

•  Know what drug it is, the strength of the drug and the length of its effects.
•  If possible, know the source of the drug.
•  Avoid mixing it with other drugs or alcohol.
•  Start with a low dose if you haven’t taken drugs in while.
•  Don’t take drugs alone.
•  Find out where to get Narcan, which is a drug that reverses opioid overdoses. In North Carolina, you can get it with a prescription. The NCHRC offers training on how to administer the drug to someone who has overdosed.

The best solution in preventing overdoses is to get help for a drug addiction, but many people feel ashamed to admit they have a problem. Understanding that addiction is a chronic condition can help change viewpoints on addiction and reduce the stigma attached to it. Organizations like the NCHRC hope that by recognizing the complexity of drug addiction and by offering non-judgmental support, they can help those addicted to drugs avoid dangers like overdoses.  According to the NCHRC, programs like theirs have been shown to prevent overdose and provide a path to drug addiction treatment program.

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