Where are We in the Fight Against Drug Overdose?

With so many issues like COVID and the mental health crisis flooding our media we can easily find that we have ignored other significant issues like the prevalence of drug overdoses. Many of these overdoses are in our youth community. Statistics like this are not just numbers. They are tragedies, traumas and devastation to those who are impacted by the losses to their family. 

We have not received statistics from 2022 but the 2021 numbers of deaths due to overdoses rose by 15% from 2020. According to the CDC these statistics represented the impact of drug overdoses in the 2021 year.

Synthetic Drugs (Fentanyl)71,238
Psycho-stimulants (Meth)32,856
Natural/semi-synthetic (prescription)13,503

These numbers are indicative of a national crisis, however each death is a personal one. Also, these numbers do not reflect the number of individuals who have overdosed and recovered. If the statistics are showing this many worst-case scenarios, how many more close calls and/or serious addictions were there that negatively impacted our children and families?

We must continue to be vigilant in our families and communities to prevent drug addiction.  The earlier we can detect drug use and keep our students from continuing to regulate their stressors by drugs, the less likely they are to become addicted and possibly have an overdose.

One reality with the many issues related to the current post-COVID mental health crisis is that many of those who struggle with their mental health turn to drugs to help ease or numb their pain. We have observed that many students we serve at Lakeside are struggling with several different issues all at once, including drug use. It is unusual to identify students who are in crisis to only have one personal life struggle. It is even worse for drug and alcohol facilities that are helping individuals with their drug use. As I have stated in previous posts, most drug addiction is accompanied by multiple levels of interpersonal trauma. 

We cannot allow drug addictions and overdoses to be taken off of our national radar. We still need to be proactive when we hear of drug use by our kids. We also must help adults who struggle by providing therapeutic interventions and access to healthcare that will provide the necessary support to prevent the tragedy of deaths due to drug overdoses. It is my hope that we will find ways in this coming year to reduce this extremely complex set of issues surrounding this national crisis. 

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