August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. Roughly 200 people die from opioid overdoses daily, in America alone. Opioid overdoses now kill more people annually than car accidents. These facts are mind-blowing, and they are true. Each day someone loses a child, a mother, a father, cousin, sibling, and friend. Bringing awareness to the issue is one part of the fight to educate the public on what we can do as a community and as a country. How can we help and is any of this preventable? For the loved ones we have lost, how can we take time on this day to celebrate their life, and not only commemorate their passing?
Awareness and Education on Opioid Overdoses
The opioid epidemic is not hidden, it’s infiltrating our families, schools, and communities. Sadly, opioid dependence is spreading and taking more lives. Bringing awareness of how truly dangerous opioids are is the first thing we can do. That can be done through education. When we’re armed with the facts such as signs and symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction, we know what to look out for.
Opioid overdoses can happen from prescription opiate medication and illegal street drugs. It is not only street drugs like fentanyl-laced heroin that are killing people. Some people assume that opiate overdoses can only occur with IV drug users. That is also not true; people are overdosing and dying from snorting opioids and taking them orally, deliverly method has no impact on opioid overdoses. Education shouldn’t consist of cheap scare tactics used in PSA’s. It’s arming people with the facts of opioid addiction and how to help someone in the event of an opioid overdose.
Opioid Drug Overdose Prevention
When it comes to an opioid drug overdose, many people are ill-informed about what is happening. One of the common misconceptions is that you can overdose from accidental skin exposure of fentanyl. Fentanyl has to be absorbed into the body and enter the bloodstream to cause on overdose. 100 micrograms is a therapeutic dose of fentanyl, and that takes 14 minutes to absorb into the skin from a fentanyl patch. Therefore, when people or first responders aren’t acting immediately when someone has overdosed from fear of accidental exposure, the person who has overdosed can die. People who overdose very rarely die from strictly the toxicity of the drugs used. Opioids are a depressant and affect the part of the brain that controls the respiratory system, making them stop breathing.
If you witness someone overdosing or suspect that they have had an opioid overdose, act quickly. CALL 911, and if you have Narcan (naloxone, the opiate overdose reversal medication) use it. If you are unsure how to get naloxone or how to use it, there are resources available for both.
Celebrating the Life of Lost Loved Ones and Shedding the Stigma of Addiction
There are events all over the world on this day, to raise awareness, spread harm reduction methods and remember lost lives. GateHouse Treatment in New Hampshire is holding an event to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost and to support the ones who are in recovery and raise awareness for the ones still suffering. When someone dies, we often focus on the fact that they have been taken from us. We mourn, and that’s normal. You are not afforded the same freedom of discussing what happened because of the stigma associated with a loved one passing due to an opioid or other drug-related overdose. The silence many face is crippling. There is nothing to be ashamed of when a loved one passes, no matter what it was from.
Celebrate their life instead of only remembering what took them. Eat their favorite food, listen to a song that makes you think of them, wear their favorite color, celebrate all the little things that made them who they were. Most importantly, talk about it. You don’t have to suffer in silence with your grief. Getting involved in an event can give you a support group to turn to when you’re struggling with a loss of a loved one. You are worthy of recovery just as they have been freed from their addiction; you are worthy of being free from the stigma of addiction as well.
For the people still struggling with substance use disorders, there is help available. Call GateHouse Treatment today at 855-448-3638; you can heal and live a life of sobriety, we can help.