Opioid Overdoses Reached an All-time High in 2020
2020 has undeniably been one of the most turbulent years in recent history, COVID-19 came in and shook up the world as we knew it, and collectively we experienced a level of isolation that was unprecedented. Grief, fear, financial strain, and social isolation has brought on an incredible amount of emotional turbulence and, for many, resulted in a rise in substance abuse and addiction. For those battling an opioid addiction, 2020 also brought record numbers of overdoses. There were an estimated 93,331 fatal opioid overdoses last year, a roughly 30% increase from the previous year. Fentanyl, a potent and potentially lethal synthetic opioid, has also become widely available and is being cut with illegal drugs unknowingly to users which only increases the risk for an overdose.
The Importance of Opioid Overdose Prevention Measures
Teaching the public, particularly kids and teens, about the dangers of opioids and overdoses is imperative in ending the opioid epidemic that has plagued this country for decades. Knowing the signs of an opioid overdose also allows the public to act quickly and effectively should they need to assist someone who is overdosing. Educating the public, public health officials, and politicians also allows changes in policies that can help prevent the sharp rise in overdoses.
The Most Effective Opioid Overdose Prevention Measures
- Talk to your prescribing physician
- Discuss how you can safely and effectively manage your pain.
- Understand all risks for developing an addiction to your medication, side effects, and know who to contact if you have concerns during the course of your treatment.
- Do your research and decide on a plan with the input of your doctor.
- Go to your follow up appointments to ensure your medication is still necessary.
- Take your medications how they are prescribed to you
- Never take more than you are prescribed and do not share your medication with anyone.
- Do not mix your medication with alcohol, medications, or other substances. It is extremely dangerous to combine opioids with:
- Hypnotics, such as Ambien
- Muscle relaxants, such as Soma
- Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax
- Taking opioids in combination with any of these can result in potentially fatal side effects such as respiratory distress or decreased heart rate.
- Store medication somewhere safe. Ideally this would be in a locked box, away from kids and pets.
- When you are finished with your treatment, find a local community drug disposal event so that the medication is not getting into the wrong hands.
- Possibly the most effective way to avoid an opioid overdose is to attend opioid addiction treatment.
How To Recognize Opioid Overdose
Knowing the signs of an opioid overdose is a crucial part of being able to help someone who appears to be overdosing. Here are the signs to look for:
- Cold or pale skin
- Blue or purple lips or fingertips
- Sleeping or fading in and out of consciousness
- Limp and unresponsive body
- Very slow and shallow breaths
- Gasping for air or sounding like they are choking
- Pinpoint pupils
If you suspect someone has overdosed, please follow these steps:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Stay with them.
- Be aware that they may wake up angry, irritable, and confused.
- Administer Narcan if you have it.
- Roll them on their side in case they begin to throw up.
- Talk to them and try to keep them awake.
- Most importantly remember, regardless of your understanding of addiction, you are with a human who is deserving of love and respect, and they should be treated as such.
Opioid Addiction Treatment at The Source
The Source Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale takes pride in providing unmatched and leading edge addiction treatment to everyone who contacts them for help. If they are unable to help you, they will match you with a facility who can. Opioid addiction treatment at The Source is designed to address the root cause of your addiction through the use of trauma therapies, individual therapies, and group therapies. They offer several levels of care, so you know you are getting the least restrictive treatment while maintaining some normalcy to your life. Through their unique mentorship program, you will be provided a peer mentor who is also in recovery to provide an additional layer of support, understanding, and accountability. If you or a loved one would like more information on preventing opioid overdose or opioid addiction treatment, please call our compassionate staff at (800) 204-0418 or visit them online at www.thesourcetreatmentcenter.com.