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5 Most Common Drugs to Overdose On

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Overdose Statistics: What the Numbers Show

The opioid epidemic sweeping both the nation and globe has catapulted the severity and risks of addiction into the mainstream media. While numerous reports are shedding light on the gravity of the risks associated with addiction, the growing concern for individuals impacted by addiction and overdoses continues to soar. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into unprecedented times, characterized by fear of the unknown and heightened stress levels. Amidst these challenging times, there’s also an increased awareness of transfer addiction – where individuals, while attempting to move away from one addiction, may inadvertently develop a dependency on another substance or behavior. As society grapples with the complexities of addiction in this new landscape, it’s crucial to ensure holistic approaches to recovery that address potential vulnerabilities like transfer addiction. During this time, there was a significant increase in overdose-related deaths with approximately a 34.4% increase in drug-related overdose deaths. In 2020 alone, there were 91,799 overdose-related deaths in the United States alone. This number of overdose-related deaths has increased by 649% since 1999. In 2020, overdose-related deaths accounted for 91% of the deaths in the United States including homicides, suicides, and undetermined intent deaths. This staggering number demonstrates the increasing risks and concerns for overdose-related deaths and the need for addiction recovery support and other supports that will help to reduce the risks for substance abusers. Of those 91,799 overdose-related deaths, 77% of those deaths were opioid-related overdoses. Opioids encompass heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids. However, with the growing fentanyl epidemic, the number of people losing their lives to fentanyl has increased by 59% since 2019. While the numbers are alarming, it is important to remember that there is help available for you to safely and successfully overcome your addiction with the proper addiction treatment methods that will assist in safe detox practices and evidence-based addiction therapy approaches. 

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5 Most Common Drugs of Overdoses

Engaging in substance abuse poses potential risks and implications for your overall health and well-being. Substance abusers experience risks to their physical and psychological health with certain substances posing a higher threat of experiencing overdoses. There are some substances that are more commonly used and associated with higher numbers of drug-related overdoses than others.

The most common drugs associated with overdoses are: 

  1. Fentanyl- Fentanyl was originally produced as a prescription painkiller that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. The original intention of this drug was to aid in major pain relief from major pain conditions or after surgery. However, the illicit drug market has seen a growing number of substances being laced with fentanyl, leading to a dangerous combination of chemicals and an increase in opioid-related overdose. Fentanyl is being produced in counterfeit pill forms that are made illegally with varying doses. The unknown amount of fentanyl being made within these counterfeit pills make it dangerous for substance abusers as it is unclear how much fentanyl they are consuming leading to an increase in opioid overdoses. 
  2. Heroin- Heroin has been on the illicit drug market for a number of years and there has been a consistent concern for heroin-related overdoses. Heroin can be used through smoking, snorting, or injecting. No matter the method that someone uses, there is an increased risk of overdoses. When someone engages in heroin abuse, they will quickly develop a tolerance to heroin causing them to have to use more to reach the same desired effect. The dependence created will increase the risk of overdose as the amount ingested becomes larger. Over recent years, heroin has become increasingly more dangerous due to the combination of fentanyl mixed with heroin which significantly increases the risk of an opioid-related overdose. 
  3. Prescription Painkillers- There are legitimate health reasons that a person may take prescription painkillers that will help to alleviate severe pain and treat ongoing pain conditions. However, if a person misuses these medications, there is a high risk of someone becoming physically dependent on prescription painkillers and entering into a cycle of addiction and dependency. Similar to other illicit opioids, when you abuse these prescription painkillers there becomes a significant risk of experiencing an overdose. 
  4. Alcohol- Alcohol is a substance that is socially acceptable to use which can cloud someone’s judgment on the severe risks and impacts that it can have. When you engage in prolonged alcohol abuse, your body develops a tolerance to alcohol causing someone to have to drink more to reach the same desired effects. Drinking too much alcohol can have fatal effects and is a serious concern for those that are in the midst of alcohol addiction and abuse. 
  5. Prescription drugs- Prescription drugs encompass a variety of categories, including benzodiazepines, antidepressants, synthetic opioids, and sleeping medications, each serving to address specific health conditions. When taken as directed, such medications can significantly alleviate the symptoms of persistent physical or mental health disorders. Zoloft, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, is beneficial for managing specific mental health conditions when taken as prescribed. However, the misuse or overuse of these medications, including improper weaning off of Zoloft, can plunge individuals into a cycle of addiction, escalating the risk of zoloft withdrawal symptoms and potential overdose, especially when combined with other substances or medications. The risk heightens when individuals attempt to navigate Zoloft withdrawal without appropriate medical guidance, emphasizing the importance of adhering strictly to medical advice when modifying the intake of such medications.
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Other Possible Drugs to Overdose On

No matter which substance you engage in, there are risks associated with your substance abuse which can include overdoses. The chemical components of drugs and alcohol significantly impact a person’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. While there are some substances that have an increased risk of overdose, there are other substances that run the risk of you experiencing overdoses including the following substances: 

  • Cocaine 
  • Methamphetamines 
  • Benzodiazepines 
  • Semi-synthetic opioids 
  • Synthetic opioids 
  • Antidepressants 

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What to Do About a Drug Overdose

When someone experiences a drug overdose, it can be a scary sight to see leaving many with heightened emotions. The good thing to remember is that intervening in a drug overdose can increase the likelihood of saving someone’s life. If you witness someone experiencing an overdose these are the steps that you can take to intervene: 

  • Call 911. Before you do anything else, it is crucial that you contact emergency medical professionals that can help to provide life-saving medical interventions and treatment. If the person is unresponsive or not breathing, the 911 operator will be able to walk you through providing CPR to the individual while you wait for help to arrive. 
  • If you suspect that a person is overdosing on opioids you can administer Narcan (naloxone). This injectable dose or nasal spray is an opioid antagonist that can reverse the effects of an overdose and help to bring someone back to life. The effects of Narcan may only last momentarily so it is important that medical professionals assess the individual even after Narcan has been administered. 
  • Ensure the person is in the recovery position after they have regained consciousness. This will ensure that this person is able to breathe without the risk of swallowing their tongue and keep their airways open.
  • Wait for emergency medical services to arrive. 

Get Help with Drug Addiction by Calling Resurgence Today

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we offer all patients a comprehensive treatment program that is personalized to meet the individual needs of each patient within our recovery center. We understand that addiction is a personal disease that impacts each person differently which is why your recovery program needs to be tailored to suit your needs and support achieving your overarching goals for addiction recovery. Through our whole-person integrated approach to healing, our team will support you in safely overcoming the physical dependence on drugs and alcohol while offering you leading evidence-based therapy methods that will support healing from addiction within your body, mind, and spirit. Call our admission team today to hear more about the drug rehab programs offered and begin your road to recovery today. 

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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