Drug overdose deaths have been a long-standing program in the U.S., but the issue has grown into an epidemic in recent years. Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, while heroin overdose deaths climbed 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.
When it comes to overdose prevention, being proactive is always the best plan of action. In response to the rising overdose crisis, you can now find free community programs offering overdose recognition and response education. You can also work with your loved one’s doctor or medical practitioner in order to come up with a strategy designed to get them into treatment.
Drug Monitoring Programs
Besides Missouri, every state in the nation now has a prescription drug monitoring database in order to stop or significantly reduce “doctor shopping” among addicts.
However, a study published last month from Johns Hopkins University found there’s a significant problem with these programs – nearly half of all doctors don’t use it.
If you’re concerned that your loved one might suffer an overdose brought on by the use of multiple prescriptions, you can insist that his practitioner use the database as a way to compile all vital and available information on his opioid use.
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia currently have an access law for what is essentially an antidote to opioid overdose. The life-saving drug is called naloxone.
Naloxone is administered via needle or nasal inhaler and blocks the brain’s opiate receptors, where heroin and other opioids bind. Since 2010, Naloxone has reversed over 500 overdoses in New York alone. The police department of Quincy, MA, the first in the nation to require every officer on patrol to carry the drug, also reported a 95 percent success rate in July 013. Training to use the kit is extremely simple and takes about 15 minutes, while administering it takes just seconds.
No Time to Waste
When a loved one is addicted to drugs, you can’t afford to wait around and see what happens. That’s the singular message one family in Maine hopes to get across after losing their 24-year-old daughter, Molly Parks.
Molly died from a heroin overdose on April 16, prompting her parents to pen a candid obituary that detailed her 5-year struggle. The moving piece reveals that Molly “made a lot of bad decisions, including experimenting with drugs" and how she had experienced at least one near-fatal overdose in the past.
The family closes out by saying “Don't believe your addict is clean. Don't do it. You have to be diligent. Stay right on top of them."
Don't Turn a Blind Eye
So, what can you do to make a positive impact in an addict’s life? Talk with them about the dangers of drug use, educate yourself on the warning signs of an overdose and learn how to reverse them.
If you love them, then you must learn how to save them.
Additional Reading: Keeping Your Teen Sober is a Family Affair
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org