Fatal Drug Overdoses on the Rise


The biggest rise in accidental drug overdoses are among men and woman in the 45 to 64 year range, says the National Safety Council. The National Safety Council categorizes home drug overdoses as household poisonings. Since the year 2000, there has been a 100% increase in accidental poisonings. Approximately 24,000 people in the U.S. die each year from fatal drug overdoses. The main culprits are the painkiller drugs, such as, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and buprenorphine. Many of those who use these drugs, don’t have a prescription. They were able to get these drugs from a friend or relative.

Symptoms of a Drug Overdose or Poisoning:
• Seizures
• Nausea
• Diminished level of responsiveness
• Unusual smells on breath
• Open containers or bottles nearby
• Abdominal pain or cramping

How to care for Patient
It’s important to act quickly in a drug overdose by calling 9-1-1. If the patient is still conscious you may call the U.S. National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. They are the leading authority in the treatment of all poisonings. In a drug overdose case, never induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by the Poison Control Center. Save any vomit, bottles or containers for the emergency medical personnel. Consider having “Activated Charcoal” available. This is an over-the-counter medication which slows or prevents the absorption of the poison or drugs. This is only to be given by the advice of the Poison Control center and is not a cure. The victim still needs to proceed to a hospital, in case the poison or drugs need to be removed from the body.

Drug Overdose Prevention
Make sure to secure and monitor all prescribed medications, especially painkillers, in the home. Routinely clear out all old medications from your home medicine cabinet. Dispose of any remaining pills, after expiration dates or if they are no longer needed. And never, in any event, give someone else, medications that have not been prescribed to them by a doctor.

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