Drug overdoses occur every day in the United States, and with the right tools and information can be prevented. Unfortunately, across the country, drug overdose deaths increased in 2019, with Arizona experiencing a 17.4% increase. According to the CDC, there were 71,149 drug overdose deaths in the United States last year, 2,025 of those deaths occurred in Arizona. In recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, MCAO wants to make sure residents of Maricopa County are aware of the warning signs of drug abuse and symptoms of an overdose.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s routine way of life. For someone struggling with stress, depression, or addiction, this can have severe consequences. As we continue to social distance, those who rely on addiction services and treatments are especially vulnerable. During this time, we must continue to provide support for those struggling with substance abuse. Check with your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family frequently. Make sure to ask questions, listen, and pay attention to warning signs of substance abuse including:
- Irregular sleeping patterns and restlessness
- Changes in mood as well as irritability or aggression
- Abrupt weight and skin changes
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Loss of interest and depression
An overdose occurs when a high concentration of a drug overwhelms the body and leads to heart or respiratory failure. The majority of overdoses are accidental and happen for a variety of reasons, including resuming use after being sober, taking a more potent dose than accustomed to or combining substances. Several symptoms show someone has overdosed, including no response, shallow breath, snoring or gurgling sounds, and blue/grey lips or fingertips, among others.
If someone is believed to have overdosed on drugs or alcohol, call 911 immediately and stay with them until medical professionals arrive. Never leave someone at risk on their own or assume they can sleep it off, it can take hours for someone who has overdosed to die. In 2018, Arizona enacted the Good Samaritan Law, which prohibits a bystander who sought emergency assistance for an overdose from being charged or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance. The Good Samaritan Law encourages people to help those who have overdosed receive the necessary emergency care.
Communication and awareness are essential factors in helping decrease drug abuse and overdoses. To learn more about International Overdose Awareness Day visit, OverdoseDay.com. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse visit, SAMHSA.gov/find-help/national-helpline or call 1-800-662-4357.