By: Shelby Gordon
August 31st is International Overdose Awareness day. Why is this important?
Let’s start with the data:
In the year ending in December of 2020, there were record-breaking numbers of drug overdose deaths. According to CDC provisional data, which can be found here (Products – Vital Statistics Rapid Release – Provisional Drug Overdose Data (cdc.gov)) there were 92,452 drug overdose deaths in that period. That is an increase of almost 20,000 deaths in one year, an increase of 30%. Also, this is provisional data, meaning the numbers are still going up because some reports take longer to finalize. Overdose is when a person takes a dose of a substance too much for their body to cope with, so it shuts down. All drugs can cause an overdose if misused, that includes prescription drugs.
These higher rates of drug overdose deaths can be attributed, in part, to more social isolation and the pandemic’s impact on mental health. We are all experiencing a collective trauma that has exacerbated many of the problems we ordinarily face, which has led some to start using substances or increase their substance use.
So what is International Overdose Awareness Day?
It is a global event to reduce stigma and raise awareness to #endoverdose around the world. Stigma about drug use is dangerous because it deters those who are using substances from seeking help. Stigma blames a person and isolates them from others.
Substance use dependence can affect anybody. I was talking to a colleague about substance use and suicide one time, and they had said, “Nobody thinks it will be someone they love until it is.” Until it is, those words are so powerful. It could be our brother, sister, mother, child, or friend.
I read a book called “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari, and in it, he states, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.” There is power in numbers, and by working together, we can collectively make a difference. The Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition has FREE medication lock boxes to store medication safely. There are also drug disposal boxes located around our community to get rid of unwanted or unused medication. Call Shelby at 307-352-6677 to get more information.
You can also join the Sweetwater County Prevention Coalition and work with us to prevent substance use and abuse in our community. Visit us on Instagram or Facebook @swcoprevention to learn more or send us a message.
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