In 2020, overdose deaths in the US increased by nearly 30% since 2019 according to the National Center for Health Statistics (Washington Post).
Overdose awareness is an issue close to the heart for the community at Christ House. Many of our patients have histories of substance use disorders, which can put them at a greater risk of overdose. The prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic has only presented more challenges for individuals with substance use disorders. When asked about what contributed to the spike in overdose deaths since the pandemic, Christ House’s Addictions Counselor John Bush shared that the answer is “polyfactorial” with factors including “isolation, increase in alcohol and drug use, and undiagnosed or untreated mental illnesses.” Additionally throughout the pandemic individuals have dealt with “stress…unemployment, relationship and child care issues, and housing instability” (Washington Post).
August 31st, 2021 is International Overdose Awareness Day. The purpose of this annual campaign is to “end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died, acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind…and to spread the message that drug overdose is preventable.”
When asked about the societal stigmas that surround drug overdoses, John shares that we could benefit from being further educated about the total impact of alcohol and drugs on our society. The stigmatization of substance use and overdose deaths is prevalent today, and John often wonders what could increase society’s understanding of individuals with substance use disorders. “Overdoses do not discriminate,” he shares, “It could happen to anyone who indulges in the use of alcohol and other drugs.”
One crucial way to help prevent overdose deaths is through education. John shares, “mixing alcohol, prescription medications, and other substances increases risk of overdose” and for cases where an individual is actively using “I would encourage them to use in the company of others because most deaths occur when nobody is there to revive the person.”
At Christ House, our nursing staff makes a conscious effort to equip patients at discharge with Narcan, a prescription medicine used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations, for their own use or for a friend in need. If you would like to learn about getting trained to use Narcan in DC, click here. For additional resources on Overdose Awareness, please see the links below. Together, we can #EndOverdose.
To learn about harm reduction — “a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing the negative consequences associated with drug use” — during COVID-19, please click here.
To make a donation in memory of a loved one today, please click here.