Are Overdoses Like What I See on TV?

Are Overdoses Like What I See on TV?

Entertainment culture has long been fascinated with drug and alcohol overdose. While some films or television programs do their best to be realistic in their portrayals of drug use and addiction, most people’s understanding of overdose has been distorted by inaccurate or dramatized depictions.

Drug Overdose Doesn’t Always Lead to Unconsciousness

Television overdoses often show someone who is either completely incoherent or unconscious. The truth is that any dose of a drug that is higher than the suggested amount is technically an overdose. If a drug user assumes that overdosing comes only after a person has ingested enough of a substance to become completely incapacitated, they may think that they are safe as long as they can still speak and walk. Most overdoses are accidental, and one of the first casualties of drug abuse is good judgment. Overdose is possible even when a person is fully conscious and alert.

Overdose Can Lead to Permanent Brain Damage

Because television shows tend to show happy endings after dramatic situations, some of the most common depictions of overdose are followed by a person in a hospital bed recovering. The truth is that overdose can cause permanent brain damage, coma or death. Not every patient can be revived if they lose consciousness, and not every overdose follows years of abuse. Even first time drug users can die from overdose.

Overdose Doesn’t Always Lead to Recovery

Another common dramatic device is to show a character who overdoses, experiences a “moment of clarity” and starts off on a path to recovery. This portrayal may cause some drug users to believe that they can continue to push the limits of their body and mind, until they overdose. They may use overdose as the first indicator that they have a problem that needs help. Unfortunately by the time a person overdoses it is often too late. Even if they survive the overdose, their disease will make it difficult to acknowledge a problem or take the actions needed to quit.

Preventing Drug Overdose

The only sure way to prevent overdose is to stop using drugs before it can happen. Most addicts don’t understand the severity of their problem, until they try to stop taking drugs. The onset of physical withdrawal symptoms causes most addicts to return to their drug of choice, but, even if they can endure the pain of withdrawal, most will succumb to the psychological power of the disease and relapse in the coming weeks or months. Full and lasting recovery requires comprehensive treatment by professionals who know how to reprogram the brain to its pre-addiction health. Addiction treatment often requires a combination of the following:

  • Individual counseling
  • Recovery support group meetings
  • Education about addiction and recovery
  • Instruction in healthy coping and relaxation techniques
  • 12-step program elements
  • Strategic preparation for life after rehab

In the same way that overdose is often misrepresented on television, rehab has also been painted in a negative light. Many depictions of rehab involve drab facilities that seem like insane asylums. The truth is that many of the most effective programs involve beautiful facilities, offer healthy and interesting foods and make great efforts to ensure their patient’s comfort in every way.

Find Help for Addiction Today

Call our toll-free helpline for confidential answers to all of your questions about addiction and recovery. We can connect you with programs that will far outperform any rehab programs depicted on television, and we can help you act now before an overdose occurs. We are here 24 hours a day, so please call and learn more about your options.