How Many People Have Died of Overdose?

About 64,000 people died of drug overdose in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This number includes overdoses from all drugs the CDC tracks.

Deaths from overdose have been increasing since 1999. In that year, fewer than 20,000 people died from overdose. This number increased steadily until 2011, when more than 40,000 people died of overdose. Between 2011 and 2017, the increase in overdose death has been exponential.

Most of these overdoses are from opioids, or, more accurately, opioids plus something else. Opioids lower the heart rate and suppress breathing. An opioid overdose alone is enough to be fatal but the risk is even greater when opioids are used in combination with something else, especially if used with benzos or alcohol, which also suppress heart rate and breathing.

Part of the increase in overdose death in recent years is due to fentanyl overdoses, which began a sharp rise in 2013. In 2013, there were about 4000 deaths from fentanyl overdose, but by 2016, that number had risen to 20,000. Pure fentanyl can be lethal if it comes in contact with the skin. It is sometimes abused by itself, often in the form of a patch, and it is sometimes added to heroin, greatly increasing the risk of overdose.

Overdoses are most common among experienced drug users, usually addicts who have been using for two years or more. Overdoses often happen when the user combines drugs or when he relapses after a period of being clean. Tolerance to the drug declines during the clean period and if the user tries to resume using at the level he was accustomed to at the height of his addiction, it may be too much and cause an overdose.

Men are more likely than women to die of overdose for all drugs, but especially for heroin. Most overdoses are accidental, and not an attempt at suicide.

Overdoses are not always fatal. If someone drops and stops breathing, he might be saved if he gets help right away. Call 911 immediately. Most states have good samaritan laws that protect people from arrest and prosecution for drug possession if they call 911 to report an overdose. The exceptions are Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, South Carolina, and Maine. Generally speaking, paramedics are only interested in saving lives, not busting addicts. Don’t waste time trying to revive the person with water or anything else unless the operator explicitly tells you to. If it’s available, administer Narcan, or naloxone, and, if necessary, help the person breathe until the Narcan kicks in or help arrives.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t wait for an overdose before getting help. Gardens Wellness Center can help with detoxing from multiple addictions safely. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com.

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