August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day. Starting in 2001 in St. Kilda, Melbourne, International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember the lives lost to overdose while finding ways to put a stop to overdose-related deaths. According to the CDC, over a 12-month period in 2021, approximately 100,306 individuals died due to drug overdose in the US. Though this number continues to rise, with initiative on our behalf, we can put a stop to it. With that, we’ll be sharing a couple tips to help you celebrate and honor this observance .
1. Educate yourself on overdose prevention
In order to best help prevent overdoses, it is important to understand how overdoses occur and what can be done to stop them. Overdoses can occur when individuals use substances that contain fentanyl, an opioid known for being immensely potent and lethal. Individuals partaking in substances containing fentanyl are never made aware that it is present, resulting in overdose given that a small amount of fentanyl is all it takes to prove lethal. Knowing this, it is important to avoid substances typically laced with fentanyl, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin.
2. Reach out to loved ones to ensure proper prescription handling
Another way in which overdoses can occur is due to poor prescription drug handling. This could either mean the individual prescribed the drugs are mishandling them or the prescribed drugs have ended up in the wrong hands. Regardless of the situation, speaking to your loved ones to ensure they are being safe and smart with their prescriptions is a must in preventing overdoses. Keeping all prescriptions out of reach to those who shouldn’t be taking them is a first step. Additionally, following proper disposal of prescription drugs is a must.
3. Communicate with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns
If you are someone who has been prescribed multiple medications to treat any condition you have, it would be wise to speak to your doctor to ensure that the medications can be taken at the same time. If there needs to be a certain schedule set in place to allow you to take all the medications, then be sure to get that schedule clear and abide by it. For example, certain medications must be taken alongside food while others can be taken on an empty stomach. By clarifying how each medication you take functions and what must be done to use them, you can ensure your safety and wellbeing.
4. Be respectful to those struggling with addiction
In our nation today and in many places across the world, there is an ongoing stigma against those that struggle with drug addiction. In reality, the way to help people out of this situation is not through shaming or demeaning them, it’s through acceptance and compassion towards them. By extending a helping hand to those that struggle with addiction, we can help get people out of compromising situations that can lead to overdose.
If you are someone you know struggles with addiction, don’t be ashamed to reach out to the right places. For more information, visit https://oasas.ny.gov/prevent-overdose.