overdose signs

Symptoms of Overdose

America’s drug epidemic has been a severe public health crisis for far too long. In the past decade, approximately half a million people from all walks of life have lost their lives to fatal drug overdoses. Within the past two and a half years, the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated overdose rates among the millions of Americans with substance use disorders.

Understanding the Drug Addiction Epidemic

Health providers know that prescription medications like Vicodin, Valium and Ambien have a high potential for addiction when people use them for long periods, which is why they limit access. When people who rely on these drugs can’t get a refill due to these restrictions, it forces them to seek new ways to get their next dose.

People who are desperately chasing a high might also be more willing to experiment with unfamiliar substances such as fentanyl, which drug dealers have increasingly turned to because it is cheaper and easier to transport than heroin. Unfortunately, fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine, substantially increasing the risk of overdose. Ingesting as little as 0.25 milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal.

International Overdose Awareness Day

Unlike prescription medications, illicit drugs are not subject to any FDA regulations, which often means they have inconsistent dosages and unpredictable effects. As a result, they are considerably more dangerous and can cause people to overdose. However, it is possible to take too much of any drug, even over-the-counter cold medications like Robitussin and NyQuil.

International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31 is an effort to increase public understanding of the factors that can lead to accidental drug overdoses. The most common signs of a drug overdose are:

  • Unconsciousness and unresponsiveness
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Erratic heart rate
  • Blue-tinted skin and fingernail beds
  • Clammy skin

Why Are Overdoses Dangerous?

While overdoses can be fatal, they rarely cause immediate death. Many overdoses occur when the victim’s system becomes overwhelmed, which can cause them to lose consciousness and gradually stop breathing or choke on their vomit.

Sadly, American cultural expectations and systemic weaknesses have increased the risk of mental illness and substance abuse. The stigma surrounding drug use causes isolation and loneliness – two significant triggers for drug use and relapse. If people take drugs alone, nobody will be around to recognize the warning signs of an overdose and call for help. Even when they have others nearby, a lack of education about this issue can have tragic outcomes.

Bay Area Addiction Treatment

Don’t become part of the statistics surrounding drug abuse and overdose. Recovery Without Walls is a confidential outpatient program that provides qualified treatment for substance use disorders, dual diagnoses, chronic pain and mental health issues. We use an integrated approach to promote holistic health and recovery. Thanks to our personalized care, you’ll receive treatment tailored to your unique needs.

Our services include nutritional support, psychotherapy, meditation, exercise programs, massage therapy and acupuncture. We specialize in treating chronic pain and addiction, including people whose prescription medication use has led to a physical or psychological dependence. Contact us when you are ready to take the next step in your journey to wellness.