Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
129 People Will Die From Drug Overdose Today
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 129 Americans on average die from a drug overdose every day. International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year to remember those lives. It aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. IOAD helps spread the message that overdose death is preventable.
Today, 129 unfortunate families will learn their loved one died from an overdose. Their lives will be forever changed.
August 31st is a time to remember and reflect on what could have been…
Graduation that never happened. A wedding that will never take place. A grandchild that will never be born. A recovery that never occurred. A life that ended, before fully lived.
It’s tragic to lose someone you love. Death is never fun. A senior parent or relative’s demise brings about sorrow. But when you lose your child to an overdose, the natural order of things is skewed. As a parent of an addicted child, you prepare yourself for the worst. You’re forced to make the most difficult choices. Enable their illness and keep them close, or set healthy boundaries and let them go. Watching your child die slowly in front of you and not be able to stop them, is traumatizing. I’m told by parents who’ve lost their children – death by overdose brings shock, horror and the sense they did something wrong.
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As humans, we fight to preserve our life. Yet when you’re addicted you do just the opposite. You ingest or inject poisonous, toxic substances into your body in the name of getting high. This euphoric state of coming before life itself. When someone purposely harms themselves (like attempted suicide) we hospitalize them, get them support, psychiatric care, medications and develop a plan of support. Yet when addicted individuals hurt themselves by ingesting or injecting a harmful substance, we say it’s their choice. They just want help. We can’t make them go to treatment.
I say, why not? They’re clearly killing themselves.
You may have heard rehab won’t work unless the addicted person wants to go. From my own personal experience, that’s not true. I didn’t want to go to rehab and I didn’t want to give up drugs. But away from my addicted friends/dealers and lifestyle and with the proper medical care, I had a chance. In a healthy living environment and with a supportive, professional team, I got better in spite of not wanting too. And I know hundreds of other people who did, also.
There’s a myth that addicts must hit rock bottom. Well, many have. You may have attended their funerals. Rock bottom is the 129 individuals who die unnecessarily each day due to a drug overdose. I wish we could mandate people into treatment when they lose the ability to fight for their life. One mother did just this when she lost her son to an overdose. Casey’s Law was established in 2004. It was inspired by Casey Wethington’s death of a heroin overdose at age 23. The law allows the parents, relatives, or friends of an addicted person to lawfully intervene and request involuntary, court-ordered addiction treatment for their addicted loved one.
Some of you will read this and shake your head. Nope, you can’t make an addict go to treatment. Won’t work.
Is it a better option to watch them die?
Low barrier housing and other enabling behaviors have become the norm when helping the addicted person. We spend millions on harm reduction. But are we spending millions on funding more treatment beds?
Why is it okay for an addicted person to shoot up in their home, but it’s not okay to mandate them to treatment?
Addiction is a delusional illness. No one ever believes overdose will happen to them. But the scary truth is if you’re using street drugs today you’re at high risk of dying. If you have concerns about your loved ones using, voice it. Don’t wait. Your addicted family member won’t like it. But that’s okay. Right now it’s not important if they’re happy with you, it’s about saving their life. They will thank you for it later on. Remember, addicted persons, aren’t thinking clearly. The instinctual part of their brain takes over and controls them. Drugs are only a small part of it. The way they think and the reason is crucially impaired, only they don’t know it. Imagine being on fire and using more gasoline to douse the flames. Addiction is like that.
The best way to help your loved one is to confront their illness. Dare to be disliked. Dare to voice your concerns. Dare to be uncomfortable. Dare to tell on them. Dare to stop walking on eggshells and take action. Maybe if enough of us do this today, tomorrow’s death toll will be lessened.
If you’re struggling with addiction reach out before it’s too late. Get the help you so desperately need. Death by overdose can happen to you. Don’t become just another statistic. Vertava Health has a dedicated team who work 24/7. They can answer your questions. All you have to do is call.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1 888 614-2379.