Overdose.  This word in and of itself inspires sorrow and misery in those who have seen it occur, and remorse in those who knew it would happen, but did nothing.  The word even inspires a degree of discontent in those who have never even been directly connected with a drug or alcohol addict.  The truth is, overdose is the grim, final toll that drugs and alcohol take upon the human body.

Overdoses are not always fatal, but when they are the effect that it has on the family and friends of the addict is devastating indeed.  Without a doubt, this is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to the family and friends of an addict.  For example:

• Crystal meth abuse has brought on a serious spike on overdose rates in the United States.  Between the years of 1995 and 2002, emergency rooms in rural and urban areas alike throughout the country reported a sudden fifty percent increase in meth related visits that occurred over these years.

• Prescription drug abuse is coming more and more emergency room visits every year.  Over a full million emergency room visits involved the non-medical and addictive use of prescription medication in the year 2011.

• Medical emergencies and near-death experiences resulting from prescription drug abuse increased by a little over one-hundred and thirty-two percent over the last seven years.

Inevitably, about fifty to eighty-thousand Americans lose their lives to alcohol overdoses every year, and about forty to fifty-thousand Americans die every year from drug overdoses.  This is truly saddening, as these causes of death are all completely preventable.  In fact, studies show that deaths from drug and alcohol abuse are the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Only smoking and obesity kill more Americans than drug and alcohol abuse.

New Plans by Hospitals to Try to Prevent Overdose Deaths

A new plan instituted by many hospitals is starting to reduce some overdose deaths in different urban areas all across the country.  This is a plan that involves home visitation by hospital staff for individuals who had recently been in the hospital for an overdose.

This plan is quite impressive.  Basically it involves, after a patient has survived a near fatal overdose, the individual granting his or her consent to be visited by hospital staff.  Shortly after the patient is dismissed from the hospital, select hospital staff trained in addiction are entrusted with visiting the addict at his or her home and checking on him or her once or twice a week for several weeks after the overdose.

This effectively serves multiple purposes.  The addict is regularly visited at random times, so drug abuse is strongly discouraged.  Also, the hospital staff can ensure that the addict is taking steps through outpatient centers to try and get rid of his or her addiction.  Also the visits help to simply ensure the safety of the addict in case he or she relapses again.

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