Canaan, CT – August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day, a time to remember the thousands of lives lost every year due to drug-related causes and to educate the public about overdose prevention. Mountainside treatment center stands in solidarity with individuals and families impacted by drug addiction, reminding them that they are valued, and that compassionate support services are within reach.
International Overdose Awareness Day urges communities to put an end to drug deaths, ensuring that no family has to endure the heartache of a drug-related tragedy. Despite a small decrease in overdose deaths last year – representing the first decline since 1990 – drug fatalities still occur with distressing regularity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that lethal overdoses dropped almost 5 percent, from 72,000 fatalities in 2017 to approximately 68,500 in 2018. This modest drop has heartened some government officials and treatment professionals, but others remain cautiously hopeful, warning that it may be too premature to celebrate.
“Although this preliminary data represents a promising step in the right direction, drugs still devastate far too many people, tearing families apart,” says Amy Sedgwick, Director of Clinical Operations at Mountainside in Canaan, CT. “Americans must remain vigilant, and community leaders should share the message that any number of overdoses is one too many. Public indifference towards the drug epidemic will only cause the total number of overdoses to rise again.”
Despite the nationwide decrease in overdose deaths, drug fatalities continue to wreak havoc across America. Certain states have actually seen an increase in drug-related fatalities. The rate of fatal overdoses surged in Missouri and Vermont by 18.9 percent and 14 percent, respectively. In Connecticut, provisional data shows that deadly overdoses rose by 4.5 percent, from 1053 deaths in 2017 to 1100 in 2018.
Overdose death surges in these regions can be attributed to another disturbing trend: the rise of fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, continues to factor into drug deaths across the country. Researchers estimate that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids killed 31,905 Americans in 2018, compared to 29,461 Americans the year before.
Meanwhile, the rising number of lethal overdoses involving cocaine and meth are also growing causes for concern. Deaths attributed to psychostimulants, including meth, rose from 10,749 in 2017 to 12,989 the following year. Cocaine-related deaths similarly increased from 14,945 in 2017 to 15,728 in 2018.
“Americans need to grasp the magnitude of the drug epidemic and recognize the risks posed by all types of drugs – not just opioids,” says Sedgwick. “When we destigmatize addiction and understand that this is an issue that impacts all Americans, people with substance use disorders will feel safer seeking lifesaving care. By educating the masses about substance misuse, how to reverse an overdose, and how to find the help of treatment professionals, we can prevent needless deaths and help change lives for the better.”