Preventing a Drug Overdose

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Preventing a Drug Overdose

[Article via Psychology Today. Click above for full post]

Researchers from New York once found that nearly 98 percent of all accidental overdose deaths were caused by opiates, cocaine, and alcohol. Nearly 60 percent of those were attributed to two of those three drugs in combination (Coffin et al., 2003). Overdose is a very real phenomenon and recent deaths by such celebrities as Philip Seymour Hoffman are a reminder that addiction is not a poor man or rich man’s disease, but a human disease that can affect anyone anywhere.

Despite the staggering statistics and the combination of factors involved in drug addiction, an overdose can be prevented. Although the best way to prevent an overdose is to not use at all, it is undeniable that there are people who use regardless. This article is not about judging use habits, but about meeting people where they are and if people are going to use, let’s make sure it’s done as safely as possible. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to that which we don’t like, but overdose is happening and it needs to be addressed whether we approve of whether people use or not.

Mixing: As stated above, more than half of all accidental overdoses have been attributed to the combination of multiple drugs. Alcohol and other drugs, such as heroin, are considered downers, meaning that they both suppress neural transmission and reduce arousal. When taking alcohol with another downer (e.g., heroin or another opiate), breathing can be slowed down so much so that your heart stops completely. It may be best to avoid mixing substances, but If you do use multiple substances, use the substance that hits the fastest first. For example, if using alcohol and heroin, take the heroin first to “gauge the high” and then add.

Tolerance: Have you ever needed more of a drug to get the same effect as you used to? Or do you not get the same effect from using the same amount? If you answered yes to either of these, your body has built a tolerance to your drug of choice, meaning that your body has gotten used to the amount you use and you need more to get that initial effect. This can be particularly dangerous because it may lead you to use more than your body can handle.

Although it may not be ideal, people often use drugs or alcohol right after rehab. This is a reality that must be acknowledged regardless of our own views on it. Using post-rehab is often seen of a period of high risk for overdose because tolerance decreases after rehab since there was, theoretically, a period of abstinence. Many people will go back to using the same amount they used prior to rehab as soon as they get out. However, the body is no longer used to that amount and cannot handle it.


[Rest of article is posted on Psychology Today. See below for link.]

Original article posted on Psychology Today. Read the rest of the post here at Psychology Today!

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Rubin Khoddam, PhD Clinical Psychology student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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