International Overdose Day is marked globally on August 31, 2017.
The annual campaign is close to the heart of Wedge Gardens’ team. The Rand Aid substance abuse centre in Whitney Gardens, Johannesburg, knows all too well how easily drug addiction can lead to death.
Therapists will be marking the day along with other SANCA-accredited centres to increase awareness of overdosing, reduce the stigma of a drug-related deaths and to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends whose loved ones have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.
Wedge Gardens’ staff will join the global call to wear silver and invite members of the public to do the same.
The United Nations World Drug report of 2014 reported that 7.06% of South Africans abuse narcotics of some kind. One in 14 people are regular users.
SANCA reports that there has been a 35% increase in admissions to its 29 affiliated treatment centres over the past 12 years. In the period 2005/6, SANCA centres admitted 8 733 users compared to 13 376 in 2016/17.
Just over 40% of people admitted are aged between 22 and 35 years. The second largest group is 14 to 17 year olds.
SANCA also reports that the sharp increase of nyaope abuse is problematic because the low grade heroin used in the drug makes users more susceptible to overdose.
What is an overdose?
Many people will assume that overdose is only relevant to illegal drugs but people can overdose using prescription or over-the-counter medications. Many of these medicines contain codeine, which – like heroin and morphine – is from the opioid family. If used as instructed, it will benefit the person but if abused it could cause dependency and have harmful consequences.
The signs and symptoms of overdose include dilated pupils, unsteady walking, chest pain, severe difficulty in breathing, gurgling sounds that indicate the person’s airway is blocked, blue lips or fingers, nausea or vomiting, abnormally high body temperature, violent or aggressive behaviour, disorientation or confusion and convulsions or tremors.
Substance use disorders are dangerous conditions and over time, the person develops a serious problem. The cycle of compulsive drug use can only be broken through professional assistance.
For more information, call Wedge Gardens on 011 430 0320.
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