How are we observing international overdose awareness day here in Broward County?
Unfortunately, for the heroin and pill dealers, it is business as usual. In fact, I have already seen a patient today who bought heroin and used it this morning. Thankfully, for this particular patient, the recovery process has begun with detox therapy. In observing international overdose awareness day, let us work together to help more of our loved ones get away from active addiction and into recovery.
One way to raise awareness is to discuss things that can lead to overdose
First, let us be clear about one thing. Opioid overdose is of primary importance. So, we should be very concerned about opioid overdose in observing international overdose awareness day. Opioids kill users more than any other drug. Especially now, with dangerous opioids such as fentanyl on the streets, overdoses are at an all time high. Hence, we should look at a few common things that often lead to overdose. While this article by The Recovery Village recommends five things to do on overdose awareness day, I suggest that we consider practical ways to prevent as many overdoses as possible.
Beware Kratom, the deadly herb.
In order to reduce overdoses, we must do a root cause analysis. What first event started the chain of events that lead to overdose? Kratom is a common culprit. Yet, the postings on social media claim that this herb can help to treat opioid addiction. So, what is the truth, regarding Kratom? The fact is that Kratom is dangerous. It triggers intense cravings for opioids and leads the opioid addict straight back to their drug of choice. I have spoken to many opioid users who have had life-threatening overdoses that started with Kratom use.
Beware well-meaning family, friends, loved ones and “experts”.
What is the best way to get clean from opioids? Studies have demonstrated that the best treatment is MAT, or Medication Assisted Treatment. This means extended maintenance treatment with medication in addition to psychotherapy. Addiction is a chronic disease and must be treated as such. Unfortunately, many so-called experts feel obligated to give their opinions to people who are desperately seeking help. Treatment medication saves lives and must be used properly. Therefore, we must spread the word and educate doctors, therapists, families, loved ones, and those who are addicted and seeking help. For more information on the topic, I highly recommend the book, “Overcoming Opioid Addiction“.
Be prepared for overdose.
There is a medication which can greatly increase the chances of survival in the event of an opioid overdose. It is Narcan (Naloxone). In many states, you may purchase Narcan at pharmacies without a prescription. To be prepared, if you or a loved one is using opioids, keep Narcan readily available. If an overdose occurs, a nearby witness can administer intranasal or injectable Narcan immediately to reverse the overdose. Of course, it is still important to call 911 immediately for emergency treatment.
In conclusion, in observing international overdose awareness day, let us work together.
If we can begin to change the way we understand opioid addiction, we can make positive changes in how we help our loved ones to recover. Opioid addiction is a chronic condition that requires specific medical treatment. Together, we can improve access to care and help our loved ones to continue getting the treatment that they need to stay safe.