In the United States, the number of people who die from a drug overdose increases each year, with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reporting an estimated 100,306 overdose deaths in 2021. Myths and misconceptions about drug overdose can be dangerous, preventing people struggling with addiction from getting the help they need before it’s too late. Educating ourselves and increasing awareness of the facts about drug overdose has the potential to save lives.
What does a drug overdose look like?
Most people understand that drug overdoses are dangerous, often life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. A lack of knowledge about the warning signs of an overdose and what to do in the event of an overdose could potentially be life-threatening.
The following are signs and symptoms of a potential drug overdose:
- Their face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch
- Their body goes limp
- Their fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
- They start vomiting or making gurgling noises
- They cannot be awakened or are unable to speak
- Their breathing or heartbeat slows or stops
If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose, do not hesitate to call 911.
Myth: You can’t overdose on prescription medication
Overdose can occur regardless of whether the substance being abused was illegal or prescribed by a doctor.
Prescription medication is only safe when taken as prescribed by your doctor. Responsible use of prescription medications, such as opioids, means the drugs are discontinued when no longer needed and do not exceed the prescribed dose. In addition, in order to responsibly use prescription medications the way they’re intended, you must have a thorough understanding of any associated risks or side effects.
Because of their potency, opioids pose a high risk of addiction and overdose. In the year 2020 alone, 68,630 people died from overdosing on opioids, including prescription medications.
Myth: You have to be addicted to overdose
While being addicted to a substance does significantly increase the risk of overdose, you don’t need to be addicted to overdose. Additionally, most overdoses are unintentional.
Accidental overdoses occur under various circumstances. Here are some examples:
- A prescription medication is not properly administered
- An individual uses prescriptions belonging to someone else
- Multiple drugs are combined, or mixed with alcohol
- The drugs have been purchased from an illicit source and are not pure (such as when a drug is laced with toxic products for the sake of manufacturer profit)
- A child accidentally consumes a parent’s medication
- An individual doesn’t realize they are close to overdosing because their tolerance to the drug has become so high
- A sober individual who used to be addicted returns to using at a very high dose and doesn’t consider the fact that their tolerance has gone down
Any time a substance is used other than as prescribed for you specifically by your doctor, there is an inherent risk of overdose.
Myth: Overdosing always results in death
While many people unfortunately die from drug overdoses, experiencing an overdose does not necessarily lead to death. The sooner you identify what’s happening and seek help, the better the chances of full recovery.
Knowing the signs of an overdose, in addition to what medications can be used in the event of an overdose, can mean the difference between life and death. For instance, if administered in time, naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
If you suspect you or someone else may be experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.
Treatment for addiction and overdose prevention
Education and awareness can help to prevent overdose. The greater your understanding of the risks, the less likely you are to mistreat or misuse substances.
Experiencing an overdose doesn’t have to be the end, but it can be a wake-up call. When you’re open to receiving help and treatment, overdose can represent the beginning of your recovery journey.
If you find yourself in a battle with substance use and want to do what you can to avoid overdose, treatment options are available. The sooner you consider seeking treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to overcome addiction and find a life of freedom and peace.
To speak to someone about treatment today, reach out to Silver Ridge Recovery by visiting our website or calling us at 855-945-7788.