Stigmas Related to Overdose

Stigmas Related to Overdose

Greater understanding of addiction is needed, especially when it comes to misconceptions surrounding drug overdose. The international community, including organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, wants to put an end to overdose stigmas and to use education efforts to prevent unnecessary deaths.

Addiction and Overdose

Advocates for preventing overdose deaths want lawmakers and law enforcement to be aware of the disease of addiction and the availability of drugs such as naloxone, which can reverse the effects of certain drug overdoses. Many overdose deaths occur because the people present are afraid to report it for fear of being prosecuted for illegal drug use. A few states provide immunity through Good Samaritan laws, and more states are considering such legislation.

Overdose and Opioids

Prescription painkillers and opioids account for the largest percentage of overdose deaths, and use of this class of drugs is climbing in popularity. Taking these drugs in high doses can slow breathing and heart rates to dangerously low levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers tripled during the last twenty years, climbing to 15,500 people in the United States in 2009.

Support Groups and Overdose Awareness

Unfortunately, drug overdose can trigger unkind reactions in medical professionals, who may feel individuals have brought it on themselves, or friends and acquaintances, who may not be familiar with the disease of addiction. To combat the misconceptions many people have about drug overdose, a group in Australia began an overdose awareness day in 2001. The event is now known as International Overdose Awareness Day and takes place August 31 each year.

Naloxone and Overdose Reversal

Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy, supports making naloxone more available. The drug can reverse opiate overdoses and is not addictive. Naloxone currently is available by prescription only, but Kerlikowske and other international figures, such as delegates to the United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drugs, support making the drug more widely available.

Need Help Finding Addiction Treatment?

Do not wait to seek help for an addiction. Call our toll-free helpline for more information about addiction, overdose and treatment options. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to help you or a loved one get started on the path to recovery. Call us today.