In recent years, deaths related to alcohol and opioid use have steadily risen. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 25 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths. Likewise, opioid-related deaths increased from 2019 to 2020.
Experts believe the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the steep increase in substance abuse and related deaths. As people faced lockdown, layoffs, and sickness, many turned to alcohol, opioids, and other substances to cope.
Good news is that the U.S. government and community efforts are recognizing the toll substance abuse is taking on Americans. Several initiatives have been launched with the hope and intention that these preventable deaths will decrease every year.
How many people die each year from alcohol?
Every year, alcohol claims the lives of 140,000 people in the U.S. Some of these deaths are accidental, while some are intentional.
Deaths from alcohol include:
- alcohol-related diseases (liver disease, cancer, etc.)
- motor vehicle crashes
- poisonings involving substances in addition to alcohol
Most of the people who die from alcohol are age 35 or older. And most victims of fatal alcohol-related incidents are male.
How many people die from opioids?
Opioids include drugs, both prescribed and street drugs, that fall within the opium category. Prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, are often prescribed to relieve pain. Heroin is a type of opioid, too.
Every day, 115 Americans die from opioid use. Most of these deaths are accidental overdoses. Opioids are often combined with alcohol, which creates a lethal combination. Most deaths are among males 25-34 years of age.
How to prevent deaths from alcohol and opioids
The best way to prevent deaths from alcohol and opioids is awareness and prevention. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself from overdose and also help others.
Use prescribed opioids as directed
If you’re prescribed opioids for pain or another condition, follow your doctor’s directions carefully. Never combine alcohol or other sedatives with prescribed opioids and never allow other people to take your medication.
Recognize the signs of someone overdosing
Knowing the signs of overdose can help you save someone’s life. These are the most common signs of opioid overdose:
- The person can’t be woken up
- Breathing is very slow or not existent
- Blue-colored nails or lips
Know what to do when someone is overdosing
If you’re around someone who is overdosing, follow these guidelines:
- Call 911 immediately
- Say “I think someone may have overdosed.”
- If the person isn’t breathing, do rescue (mouth-to-mouth) breathing by pinching the nose and blowing into the mouth
- Give the person naloxone (Narcan) if you have it
- Lay the person on their side once they have resumed breathing
- Stay with the overdosed person until the ambulance arrives
While more people die from alcohol each year, both alcohol and opioid-related deaths are public health issues that affect the lives of millions of people, including victims, their families, friends, and society at large.
Mallard Lake Detox Center is a luxury rehab in Houston that helps people high risk for alcohol or opioid overdose overcome addictions to live longer, healthier lives. We offer compassionate treatment in a professional environment. Call (936) 800-8025 or complete our online form to get started.