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How To Spread Awareness For International Overdose Day In 2019

Silver Hill Hospital

Prescription drug and illicit drug overdoses are prevalent in many countries around the world, and as we have seen over the past few years, becoming even more prevalent.

Each year our global communities come together on August 31st to remember those who lost their lives to an overdose and to spread awareness on how to prevent further drug related deaths. As we try to combat this unfortunate pandemic, we are always trying to obtain new information so that we can help both our global and local communities prevent drug abuse. In addition to this, as professionals, we are always researching and learning new insights into our victim’s profiles, characteristics and personality traits in order to gain better insight into their mental state of mind and how to act when an overdose attempt occurs. That is why it is important to study and monitor both their physical and mental health patterns so that we can educate families who are not familiar with the signs and symptoms of drug addiction.

Ultimately, if we continue this awareness momentum beyond International overdose day we can play our part in helping provide better treatment practices for everyone globally. As a global community partner, Silver Hill Hospital wants you to know that if you or someone you know is dealing with addiction issues to please read further on how to spread awareness for International Overdose Day in 2019.



What Causes An Overdose And Who Is At Risk?

An overdose occurs when someone takes more than the recommended drug dosage amount. Whether it is accidental or intentional,  consuming more than the recommended amount of certain drugs can lead to an overdose if the body’s metabolism cannot detoxify the dosage fast enough to avoid unintended side effects. Repeated abuse can encourage someone to develop an addiction or dependence for the drug. Opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants and other prescribed drugs are some of the most common substances that are abused globally. If discovered too late an overdose can lead to death. People that are more at risk of overdosing are those who have these drugs at their disposal. Specifically, adolescents and adults who want to harm themselves, are usually at danger of overdosing, but more and more, accidental overdose deaths are occuring at an alarming rate amongst all demographics, not just folks who would normally be thought of as an at risk population. An especially at risk population these days are those with a prescription for pain pills. 

The World Health Organization classifies people who are more at risk by overdosing:

  • Most people are prescribed some of these drugs after health related surgeries to manage pain.
  • People who have household members that have opioids in their possession
  • People who use these drugs because of medical conditions such as HIV, liver or lung disease
  • People who are suicidal, suffer from depression and or have other mental conditions
  • Families who have more than one member abusing an opioid in their household

In many cases ( but not all!),  an overdose is witnessed by friends, family or by healthcare or  emergency services professionals. Statistics show that the trickle down effect of a child or adolescent witnessing addiction or overdoses in their household can be devastating and cause lifetime trauma; sometimes homelessness. Children and adolescents are at risk of developing a mental health disorder just from the trauma of homelessness alone. Even in the short term,  homelessness can have a major effect on a youth’s future development as they have higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems. Self esteem issues often arise from this trauma and can add to a developing mental disorder and often-times substance abuse at a young age.

How to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose?

People who abuse these medications often suffer from underlying mental health conditions. Sometimes these conditions are not overtly apparent and certain drugs and their effects can bring out underlying mental disorders. Any of these disorders can co-occur with one another, especially if one or more of these disorders leads to alcohol abuse. Alcohol can also heighten the effects of certain medications and can increase the chances of an overdose being fatal.


Drugs + alcohol = BAD COMBO

Understanding these disorders and patterns can help shed light on what to look for if you or a loved suspect someone you know is heavily abusing drugs. Mental disorders have a strong influence on an individual’s actions. When attempting an overdose those who suffer from a mental health disorders such as, depression, anxiety, alcoholism and more have an increased chance of attempting suicide. As those who suffer from suicidal thoughts usually have their attempt already planned out, you should watch out for these signs, as substance abuse and self harm are often co-mingled.

Recognize these signs and symptoms so that you can help take action and save a life:

Signs and symptoms of an overdose

  • Changes in vital signs ( temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure change)
  • Dizziness, confusion, sleepiness and induced coma
  • Changes in skin temperature can be cool and sweaty, or hot and dry
  • Chest pains or shortness of breath (asthma attack can be triggered)
  • Abdominal pains, feeling nauseous, vomiting (blood) and diarrhea can occur

If you are witnessing someone overdosing, know that it is not too late to contact poison control center at 800-222-1222. They are well equipped to identify the drug(s) being used and what the best course of action should be.  If you are not able to reach a health care professional from the number above, call 911 or drive them to the nearest emergency room. If you choose to wait for an ambulance and medical health professional to arrive, here is what you can do until then:

  • Try keeping the person awake and breathing
  • If they are gurgling or choking lay the person on their side
  • Stay with him or her until emergency workers arrive.

If you can, it would be best to find out the drug that was used, what time it was taken and how much of it was ingested. Having this information ready can help a medical health care professional save someone’s life.

What can we do to help prevent drug abuse and overdose?

As of today, victims continue to find more alternative substances and sources that can often go undetected by loved ones. It would be easy to supply opioid antagonists, such as Naloxone to families and friends across the globe to treat their loved ones and reverse the effect of the overdose. That being said, it is not readily available worldwide nor is it a complete solution to prevent drug abuse as a whole. Drug abuse that leads to addiction or a drug dependence, needs to be combatted at the source followed by therapeutic approaches to help an individual weed off an addiction. Sobriety or a lifelong management plan, more guidance and a structured treatment plan needs to be in place to keep an individual sober and prevent them from relapsing.

If you have a mental health disorder or any other health related issues that require prescription medication, you can start with these simple prevention tips to ensure that you don’t overdose.

  • Follow the directions on the prescription label or from your doctor
  • Do not drink alcohol when taking a prescription and or over the counter drugs
  • Do not suddenly stop taking medication or change the dose without consulting your doctor first
  • Do not take someone else’s prescribed medicine or give yours to others
  • Keep medication locked up from children, adolescents and others in a secure place where they won’t find them

If someone becomes dependent on the substance(s) it can be dangerous to stop using prescription drugs, “cold turkey.”It is important to inform your doctor if a tolerance build up is starting to develop as it can interfere with the normal doctor recommended dosage. When at all possible, monitoring a loved one, especially one at risk, by being aware of the medications, doses and schedules, so that they’re not putting themselves in danger of overdose, addiction or medication misuse is highly recommended. Since some victims are at risk of overdosing while having major health illnesses, accompanying them to the doctor if they need to renew their prescriptions or if they have any questions is also recommended. This practice will also confirm if they are telling the truth,  and help if they need further explanation of a doctor’s advice if a prescription drug monitoring program is in place. Lastly, you can confirm with the doctor if a dependence is starting to develop. A doctor can then recommend alternative methods to reduce the chances of addiction or dependence.  

The good news: Over the last few years, doctors have been using a prescription drug monitoring program that can flag and confirm if someone is eligible to safely use a prescription drug. This universal health tool has gained traction as a preventative measure to minimize distribution of prescription drugs that someone can potentially abuse. This tracking tool that is entered into a system can help prevent “doctor shopping” as some abusers go to different doctors with a purpose of obtaining opioids for illicit use and/or intention to sell.

Overdose Death is Preventable” –


Silver Hill Hospital Is Your Local Community Leader

Serving the Tri-State Area in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, Silver Hill Hospital extends its hand to those who need help with drug abuse. As a global community partner who acknowledges this pandemic, we practice safe and effective approaches when combating addiction, dependence and substance abuse.

The first step in the addiction treatment process is to administer a medical detox to safely rid the body of all substances. Under the supervision of a trained medical professional, physical symptoms caused by withdrawal are safely managed. We know that a detox is not enough to treat an individual trying to be free of addiction, it is only 1 step of a holistic approach designed to reduce the high rate of relapse.

We recommend our complete solution to help treat and plan out your lifelong sobriety management plan. Further treatment consists of an umbrella of different types of treatment options that will help cover all avenues of an individual’s physical and mental well-being.  These treatment options can include:

  • Psychotherapy (individual and group)
  • dialectical behavioral therapy
  • medication (when needed)
  • 12-step programs
  • support groups
  • intensive outpatient programs

As every patient is different, we customize a set of support services in order to fully diagnose, treat and help one to recover. In addition, we also address and treat any co-occurring psychiatric disorder(s) as well that could also trigger substance abuse.

If you are struggling with addiction or know someone who is you can start off by making an appointment or calling 1 (866) 542-4455 to learn more about Silver Hill’s inpatient, transitional living, and intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs.