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    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Overdose Awareness Week Addresses Public Health Crisis

      This week is “Overdose Awareness Week (link is external)” in my home state of Maryland. The week was designated to raise awareness of the heroin and opioid public health crisis, which has reached epidemic proportions. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), there were 1,039 drug- and alcohol-related overdose deaths reported in the state last year. Of course, this public health crisis is not unique to Maryland; every state is battling this epidemic.

    Overdose is just one of the many devastating effects of substance use and abuse. The alarming overdose statics (link is external) nationwide are cause for concern. Studies show that tighter restrictions on opiate prescriptions lead to an increase in heroin use, which is one of the culprits behind the increase in overdoses nationally. Fentanyl-laced heroin adds complexity to the issue and presents a lethal combination.

    It’s important to understand that opioid overdoses are not uncommon. Individuals tend to be most susceptible after a period of abstinence. Tolerance to the drugs decreases during times of abstinence. When people use the substance again, their bodies simply cannot withstand the potency. That is when devastating overdoses can occur.  

    I commend Maryland Governor Hogan for his efforts to increase awareness of overdose deaths and believe we need to be vigilant in offering effective treatment solutions for those grappling with substance use disorder.

    The thinking that, “It won’t happen to me” or “They chose to do that to themselves,” is uninformed and cruel to those suffering. We must stop looking at addiction as a moral failing, but as the serious disease that it is. Awareness of the issue and proper treatment are the best lines of defense in combating this debilitating epidemic.

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     This topic brought to you from psychologytoday.com
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