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Author: Shernide Delva
Today, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day. On this day, the goal is to raise global awareness of overdoses and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. This day is intended to acknowledge the grief felt by friends and family who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose.
The Shocking Reality
The tragedy of a drug overdose is preventable. Today is a day to spread awareness to others about the disease of addiction. Drug addiction is a global phenomenon; however, the United States, in particular, is facing a major drug epidemic. More deaths were reported from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record. Deaths from overdoses are up among all genders, races, and nearly all ages. This is a disease that does not discriminate.
Out of these shocking numbers, three out of five drug overdose deaths involve opioids. Overdoses from opioids such as prescription opioids and heroin have nearly quadrupled since 1999. Overdoses from opioids killed over 28,000 people in 2014. Half of these deaths were related to prescription opioids.
Between 2013 and 2014, the number of drug overdoses increased a total of 6.5 percent. The year 2014 had a total of 47,055 drug overdoses in the United States. These numbers continue to climb as the prescription painkiller epidemic continues to be a major issue.
To spread the message of awareness, International Overdose Day focuses on commemorating those who have been affected by drug addiction. While today is intended to encourage the message of prevention, it also aims to encourage a message of hope.
Principles of Harm Reduction
The Harm Reduction Coalition affirms that “we will not end the overdose crisis until we place people who use drugs, along with their families and friends, at the center of our policies and strategies. “
The coalition aims to accomplish this task by ensuring that those who use drugs and their loved ones have access to information intended to treat and support them without the fear of stigma or arrest.
Furthermore, naloxone remains one of the most powerful tools in preventing opioid overdose deaths. Naloxone is a medication that works to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose. Recently, there has been a push to increase the access the public has to naloxone. In many places, naloxone can now be purchased via pharmacies like CVS, and even in school nurses offices.
Still, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, the United States is in a state of emergency.
“ We can no longer accept incremental progress; we must demand urgent action to save lives.”
Five Areas Needing Improvement
The Harm Reduction Coalition calls for immediate action in these five areas to increase access to naloxone:
- Funding: Congress should fully fund the President’s request for $12 million in Fiscal Year 2016 to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide grants to states to support broader naloxone access.
- Cost: The rising cost of naloxone by manufacturers in recent years is a deep concern. This increase threatens to limit the distribution of naloxone, especially by community-based programs that reach those most vulnerable to opioid overdoses. When prices increase, it directly increases the likelihood of more overdose deaths. Therefore, the coalition calls upon naloxone manufacturers and developers to price their products responsibly to ensure the best possible distribution.
- Access:Despite improvements in the access to naloxone, access remains limited and inadequate. Prescribers and health care professions play a vital role in ending the overdose crisis. Therefore, there should be an effort by all parties to develop guidance, education and training, resources, and support tools aimed at increasing awareness and access to the drug.
- Availability:Many states are working to make naloxone available through pharmacies through arrangements and agreements. These efforts should increase and broaden to ensure the widest availability of naloxone. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration should develop, facilitate and expedite the regulatory pathways needed to ensure naloxone can be sold over the counter. Over-the-counter naloxone should be available to the market by 2018.
- Awareness: Despite the rising number of overdose deaths in the past decade, there still is not a national awareness campaign to educate the public and those most at risk about the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose. Countless anecdotal reports suggest that the lack of awareness is a critical factor in many preventable overdose deaths. Therefore the HHS and CDC must develop broad national awareness campaigns; that spreads information on how and where to obtain naloxone.
Ways to Raise Awareness
In addition to the guidelines suggested by the HHC, the International Overdose Awareness Day website aims to raise awareness through innovative technologies like there overdose aware app. The app raises awareness amongst those who are experiencing drug use and their families. The app shares information on what an overdose is, and the main overdose symptoms.
The website also has an area where those who have been directly affected by drug addiction overdoses can write a tribute to their story and grieve anyone they have lost. These tributes are where many share the impact drug use and overdoses have had on their family and friends.
How are you spreading awareness of International Overdose Awareness Day? If you are struggling with drug addiction, do not wait for it to progress into an overdose. We can help you get back on track. Please call toll free.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Addiction and drug overdose crosses the borders that we humans put in place; borders that convince people drug abuse and overdose death is someone else’s problem. It’s not. It is our problem… as both individual and unified cultures and communities… we are all pieces of this beautiful and brilliant and complex thing that is humanity, and we have to see the reality of this tragedy as it tears apart lives everywhere.
Overdose death is killing people every single day, and it touches every social class and belief system there is.
The last day of this month we will all be given an opportunity to stop and acknowledge the toll drug abuse and addiction has taken on endless lives around the world, while also remembering those we have lost and showing support for those who are still here with International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD).
Monday, August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day, a worldwide event that puts an emphasis on bringing communities from all walks of life all over the planet to raise awareness of overdose, overdose prevention and the struggles of addiction while empowering people to actively get involved in reducing the stigma attached to drug-related death.
IOAD acts to acknowledge the heartache felt by families and friends in remembering those who have been struck down by permanent injury or death as a result of drug overdose.
International Overdose Awareness Day originated in 2001 after a discussion between individuals with a vision for taking action toward a better future.
Sally J. Finn was involved in harm reduction efforts, managing a needle and syringe program for The Salvation Army in St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.
Peter Streker was co-ordinator of the Community and Health Development Program at the City of Port Phillip (Melbourne, Australia).
The two decided to hold a local event and give ribbons out to those in the area who sought to commemorate a friend, partner or family member who had passed away. All members of the community could wear a ribbon to offer their condolences to those who had suffered overdose, even if not directly affected, and support was encouraged.
That first year 6,000 ribbons were distributed. The movement reached much farther than expected, and the ribbons reach not only the local community but were distributed throughout the state and even further.
The second year running the steel badge was designed, and the word had spread beyond the original community in Australia. Requests flooded the office for information and badges came from as far as New Zealand.
Jumping ahead a few years, the Internation Overdose Awareness Day event became recognized by the United Nations, the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) and International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC).
Over the years countless community organizations, government and non-government organizations have held events to raise awareness and commemorate those who have been lost to drug overdose, such as:
Since 2012 International Overdose Awareness Day has been organized by the non-profit Australian public health body Penington Institute after Salvation Army Crisis Services transferred responsibility.
Since we are here in South Florida, I feel it is only right to highlight an event being hosted right here in the local recovery community of Delray Beach.
The Delray Beach Community Event for International Overdose Awareness Day will be hosted Monday, August 31st from 6pm- 10pm. It will begin with a meet and greet, which will include a number of recovery community and special guest speakers
- Senator Maria Sachs
- State Attorney, David Aronberg
- Representative, Lori Berman
- Palm Beach County Commissioner, Melissa McKinlay
- Delray Beach Police Chief, Jeffrey Goldman
- Renowned Author, Relapse Prevention Expert, Terrence Gorski
- Film Producer, Steered Straight, Michael DeLeon
The speakers will be followed at 7pm by a Film Presentation of
“An American Epidemic”
A documentary of the CDC declared national prescription drug epidemic produced by Michael Deleon. Following the presentation of the film will be a candlelight vigil, with discussion and fellowship within the recovery community. Look online to find more event information.
Other Event Information
Of course there are events going on all over the world in various countries, so South Florida might not be your go-to. But for more information you can always go to the International Overdose Awareness website to make a donation or find out other ways to get involved and show support.
Simply wearing the color silver is a way to show some recognition for the event and pay respects to the cause. We all have a unique and personal contribution to make. Not every person has to be involved in the same way, but if you want to be part of something this is definitely something worth the effort.
Statistics have stated every 4 minutes someone dies from drugs or alcohol. So by that count, in the time it has taken me to write this article and post it online, dozens of people have lost their lives to addiction. Dozens of families have been shattered, and dozens of friends have lost someone who meant everything to them.
It’s time for us to wake up and truly be aware of what is happening. We are all powerful beyond our own understanding or explanation, so let us make the change. As an overdose survivor I can say it is tragic and heartbreaking thing, but we who are still here can help heal each other, and honor the lives of those who are not.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. Take the action and make the change that might change everything.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a day that hopes to reduce the shame and guilt that is so often associated with drug use and drinking. International Overdose Awareness Day themes include prevention and remembrance. International Overdose Awareness Day wants to provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn for loved ones, some for the first time, without feeling guilt or shame as well as:
- To include the greatest number of people in Overdose Awareness Day events and encourage non-denominational involvement
- To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdoses
- To send a strong message to current and former drug users that they are valued
- To provide basic information about support services in local communities
- To start a discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy
- To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice
- To remind us all the risks of overdose
What to wear on International Overdose Awareness Day
On International Overdose Awareness Day which is on August 31st, you can wear silver. A silver badge is the universal symbol of awareness of overdose and its effects. Wearing silver can signify the loss of someone close to you or demonstrate support to those who have lost someone. Wearing silver is meant to send a message and that message is that the every human being is of infinite value. And this infinite value removes prejudice and stigma towards those who use drugs. Wearing silver is the celebration of life.
You can also go to www.overdoseday.com to post a tribute to a loved one or friend on their tribute page.
So what is an overdose exactly?
An overdose is simply what it sounds like. Going over the normal dose and taking more than is necessary. An overdose means taking too much of a drug or combination of drugs for a body to tolerate. There are many drugs that can cause overdose and if they are less likely to cause overdose alone, they are probably more likely to cause overdose when mixed with another substance.
What drugs cause overdose?
Opiates, benzodiazepines, and alcohol can all cause overdoses. This is because all three are central nervous system depressants. This means that they all slow down the central nervous system and that includes breathing and heart rate. Too much of any mixture of these substance or any one of the substance can kill or cause permanent brain damage to the user.
Signs of depressant drug overdose on opiates (heroin, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, valium, Xanax, and methadone) include:
•shallow breathing or not breathing at all
•snoring or gurgling sounds (this can mean that a person’s airway is partly blocked)
•blue lips or fingertips
•floppy arms and legs
•no response to stimulus
•unrousable (can’t be woken up) unconsciousness.
If you can’t get a response from someone, don’t assume they are asleep. Not all overdoses happen quickly and sometimes it can take hours for someone to die. Action taken in those hours could save a life. This is a medical emergency: call the ambulance immediately if you can’t rouse them.
Don’t ignore gurgling and snoring. Snoring and gurgling can mean a person is having trouble breathing. With substance use, especially substances that slow down the systems of the body (benzodiazepines, opioids, GHB), snoring may indicate a serious and potentially life threatening obstruction of the airway.
Signs of alcohol intoxication to the point of overdose include:
•loss of coordination
•irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
•blue-tinged or pale skin
•low body temperature (hypothermia)
•stupor (being conscious but unresponsive)
•unconsciousness (passing out).
It is also possible to overdose on stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Amphetamine overdoses increase the chance of heart attack, stroke, seizure or drug-induced psychotic episodes.
Amphetamine overdose signs and symptoms include:
•high temperature (overheating, but not sweating)
•agitation and paranoia
What to do if someone is overdosing
•stay with them and assure them everything will be okay
•if they appear unconscious, try to get a response from them (call their name).
•If you can’t get a response put them in the recovery position and call an ambulance.
•Commence first-aid. Emergency operators can give CPR instructions.
•Keep an eye on them. People can go in and out of consciousness.
•If stimulants such as amphetamines are thought to be involved, a person may feel hot, anxious or agitated. Try to move them somewhere cooler and quieter. Or try to make the place quieter.
If you know someone who has overdosed show your support on international overdose awareness day day. It is time that more light was shed on the impact addiction has not only on the drugs users but also those closest to them.
If your loved one is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.