Acknowledging, Educating, & Acting to Raise Awareness & Eliminate Stigma against Substance Use Disorders
Dealing with the COVID-19 crisis has been tough for everyone, but especially those who are suffering from Substance Use Disorders. According to the CDC, "over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period". Overdose deaths were already rising prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 has accelerated the alarming rate of overdose deaths.
During the recorded 12-month time period:
- Synthetic opioid, commonly illicit substances laced with fentanyl, overdose deaths increased 38.4%
- Cocaine overdose deaths increased by 26.5%
- Psychostimulant, often methamphetamine, overdose deaths increased by 34.8%
According to the most recent studies, the number of overdose deaths over the past year is 30% higher than 2019. At least 10 states are predicted to have at least a 40% increase in overdose deaths over the next year. NPR's Brian Mann surmised, "If current trends continue, illicit drugs will soon kill more Americans every day than COVID-19."
Here are 4 ways to participate in this year's Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st:
These statistics are alarming, and while the pandemic has brought this crisis to light, as life begins to return to normal, we must not leave those suffering behind. Breaking the negative stigma and stereotypes associated with substance abuse is essential, but how can you actively participate in raising awareness of overdose deaths?
1. Educate yourself. In the chance that you may be present during a drug overdose, it's important to educate yourself on the signs so you can get the help they need. Education goes a long way in prevention.
2. Share information via social media. A beautiful thing about the internet is its ability to connect people across the globe. Share overdose information, statistics, and raise general awareness by posting on your social media channels.
3. Post a tribute. Remembering a loved one or community member who has lost their life due to a drug overdose is a healing way to participate in Overdose Awareness Day. Honor their memory and use your tragedy to educate others.
4. Obtain Narcan if appropriate and possible. Narcan is a life saving treatment for opioid overdoses. If you live in an area severely impacted by the opioid crisis, Narcan, or naxolene, getting trained in its usage is very beneficial.
Addiction is a disease. The increasing rate of overdose deaths in the past year show that we as a society have much further to go in reducing stigma and raising awareness. Take the time this International Overdose Awareness Day to check in on your loved ones, spread the word, and educate yourself to help prevent overdose.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a Substance Use Disorder, Acenda offers a number of recovery resources and programs to help.
Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 X9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.