Drug overdose death is one of the most unfortunate kinds of death for a number of startling reasons.
Sadly, this is a growing problem in our country, as the numbers of drug overdose deaths in 2020 are high and growing.
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to learning about death by drug overdose per year.
It is an ongoing epidemic in the U.S. despite the efforts to implement drug rehabilitation programs and spread an anti-drug message everywhere from schools to hospitals.
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Read on to learn about the 7 things you need to know about drug overdose deaths in the U.S.
1. Drug Death Statistics in America
Since 1999, about 841,000 people have died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. In 2019 alone there were a reported 70,630 overdose deaths that occurred in the U.S.
Drug overdose rates per year continue to be on a steady upward incline. According to the CDC’s newest statistics, most states in the U.S. either have a stable or increased number of overdose deaths per year.
Between 2013 and 2019, the rate of deaths involving synthetic opioids besides methadone increased by 1,040 percent. Overdose by psychostimulant drugs increased by 317 percent.
During these years, the biggest increase in overdoses by synthetic opioids occurred in the western part of the U.S. The biggest increase in overdoses by psychostimulants occurred in the northeastern part of the U.S.
Only two states, Arkansas and Michigan, have a reported decreased number of drug overdose deaths per year.
These numbers consistently indicate and highlight a worsening and alarming problem in the U.S. Urgent, effective action is required to curb these numbers and save lives.
2. Opioids Cause the Most Overdoses per Year
Opioids are the main drugs behind the rising number of overdoses per year, according to the CDC. Specifically, synthetic opioids not including methadone are predominantly responsible for drug overdoses.
Opioids include illegal drugs such as heroin, but they can also be found in legally prescribed drugs. Opioids also include fentanyl and drugs available by prescription like oxycodone, hydrocodone (also known as Vicodin), codeine, morphine, and more.
Even when taken as prescribed, there can be an inherent risk in taking medications that involve opioids. There is still a risk of becoming accidentally addicted or dependent on these medications.
Opioids were behind 49,860 overdose deaths in 2019, which makes up about 70.6 percent of all overdose deaths. Of those numbers, synthetic opioids were involved in 72.9 percent of these deaths.
These numbers also include the number of prescription drug deaths per year. The number of drug overdose death by prescription opioids rose from 3,442 deaths in 1999 to a staggering 17,029 in 2017.
Between 2017 and 2019 those numbers did, however, begin to decrease. Between those years, the number of overdose deaths by prescription opioids dropped to 14,139.
The numbers of all opioid-related deaths vary between gender as well. Overall, the number of men who have died from an opioid-related overdose is higher than the number of women.
3. Read the Signs
If you suspect someone may be in danger of a potential drug overdose, the best way to intervene and prevent a possible death is to pay attention to the signs. We can decrease the number of drug overdose death stories we hear if we intervene in time.
Drug use is difficult to hide when someone abuses them regularly, but it can be done. Keeping an open mind, staying alert, and knowing which drug overdose symptoms of death or overdose to look for may help you help someone else.
Some signs of a drug overdose may include dilated pupils, chest pain, unsteady balance, difficulty breathing, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, paranoia, and unresponsiveness.
One of the most telltale signs is that of unresponsiveness or difficulty breathing. In some cases, someone may have such shallow breathing that it may be hard to detect it. Blue lips or fingers are an indication that someone’s airway is blocked.
Signs of a drug overdose death include cessation of breathing altogether, blue lips, and evidence of vomiting.
It’s important to note that someone experiencing an overdose may not exhibit all of these signs. The length of time that an overdose lasts depends on the kind of substance that was taken and how much was taken.
4. The U.S. Continues to Fund for Prevention
The current Biden-Harris administration’s budget continues to invest in addressing illegal drug overdose deaths and the overdose epidemic facing our country.
Their budget plan will increase funding for preventing and treating substance abuse disorders and implement resources to curb the current epidemic.
Their budget will allocate $41 billion towards investing in national drug program agencies, including those for treatment and prevention.
Of that money, $10.7 billion will go towards substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatments, and recovery support services.
Some of the focus of the current administration is to prioritize access to evidence-based treatment, reduce youth substance use and abuse, reduce illicit drug supplies, and expand access to recovery support systems.
Some of these programs include long-term and short-term residential treatment, outpatient treatment, individual and group drug counseling, and school programs aimed at preventing drug use among children.
Narcotics Anonymous is one of the biggest programs available in the U.S. and the second-biggest organization that implements a 12-step treatment plan. It is a nonprofit fellowship for anyone that is experiencing a problem with drugs at any level.
This program is designed for recovering addicts to help each other stay clean and relate to one another on their journey towards staying drug-free. They operate solely on donations and are anonymous, much like members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
5. The Important of Drug Tests
Drug tests are one of the most useful tools when it comes to preventing drug overdoses. There are many kinds of tests available, including drug test cups, panel tests, and more.
A fentanyl drug test strip has the power to save lives. It can detect the presence of fentanyl in any powder, pill, or injectable. In 2019, fentanyl was found to be involved in 51 percent of all overdose deaths in the U.S.
Drug tests are important tools in helping keep individuals clean and on their path towards being drug-free. Utilizing tests encourages someone to face their challenges and encourages progress.
They also help employers screen potential job applicants, especially for jobs that involve operating heavy machinery or driving. They can also help doctors determine a patient’s drug history and use without having to rely on only their word.
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6. Overdose Medication
In the unfortunate case that someone is experiencing an overdose, there are methods available to help stop the overdose.
One of these methods is Naloxone, a non-addictive and life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid drug overdose if it is taken in time. It does not work on non-opioid drug overdoses, however.
Naloxone restores normal breathing to the person who has suffered an overdose and has slowed breathing or has stopped breathing altogether. It can be administered as a nasal spray or injected into a muscle, under the skin, or into veins.
Naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray by a friend or family member if the overdose is taking place away from a hospital. Still, it is important to call 911 and still make sure the person makes it to a hospital.
The effects of naloxone last about 30 to 90 minutes. An overdose may last longer than that, so more than one dose of naloxone may have to be administered.
7. Beating an Addiction
One of the best ways to prevent an overdose from occurring is to beat a drug addiction before an overdose can ever happen.
This means committing to all the available treatments and programs that are available. It will also require unwavering support from family, friends, and doctors or sponsors.
This will take a lot of work from the person that is addicted. It involves staying away from tempting people and places, staying aware of their mental health, and staying proactive and productive.
Prevent Drug Overdose Death With Tests
Drug overdoses can be prevented when intervention occurs beforehand. Now that you know about the facts about drug overdose death, you can do what’s needed to help prevent them.