Each year we lose thousands of people from drug overdose globally. Some survive but suffer a permanent injury, with devastating impact to their families and friends. Our community is not immune. You may have seen it; it has happened to people around you. Tomorrow, it could happen to someone you love. Fortunately, overdose is preventable. Knowing the real facts about drugs and what to do when you see someone experiencing an overdose DOES save lives.
On August 31, we will be observing International Overdose Awareness Day, an opportunity for us to reflect on practical ways to prevent overdose in our community. The goals of Overdose Awareness are 1) to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, and 2) to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. This is an international observance that is being recognized locally in Colorado.
Opioid misuse and overdoses affect individuals of all genders, races, income levels, and education levels. It impacts families and communities. It is important to recognize that addiction is a chronic disease that requires medical treatment; it is not a character flaw or failure of the individual. Though society may have preconceived notions about people who suffer an overdose, they are everyday people with families and people who love them. Here is a story map called Celebrating Lost Loves Ones that honors and celebrates those we have lost too soon due to this disease: Storymap
Resources for the community to learn more:
- www.TakeMedsSeriously.org – a public awareness website promoting safe use, safe storage, and safe disposal of prescription medications.
- www.stoptheclockcolorado.org – a website with information about naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, including where those who use opioids and their loved ones can receive naloxone to use in an emergency.
- www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html - national health statistics and information for the public and for healthcare providers about opioid overdose from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Statistics to keep in mind:
- Nearly 224,000 Coloradans misuse prescription drugs each year.
- Annual deaths from painkillers (such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and fentanyl) more than tripled from 2000 to 2013.
- In 2013, 35% of all drug poisoning deaths in Colorado involved prescription painkillers.
- There is a fatal overdose in Colorado every 9 hours and 24 minutes.