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Who is Most at Risk of Overdose?

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Introduction

If you are worried about your loved one’s drug use, there are certain things you should know. Who is most at risk of a drug overdose? 

What can they do to prevent it? And what if they do overdose? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article.

 

Table of Contents

A family history of addiction

If you have a family history of addiction, your risk of overdosing is even higher. 

Your genetic makeup and how it interacts with the environment can make you more or less vulnerable to substance use disorders. 

For example, if one of your parents struggles with opioid addiction, there’s a 25% chance they will pass on a genetic mutation that makes them more susceptible to becoming dependent on drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers. 

If this sounds familiar in your own life, know that you are not alone—and there are things you can do to help yourself stay safe.

 

Using substances at a young age

The younger you start using substances, the more likely you are to be addicted and experience other negative consequences. 

The reason for this is that the brain continues to develop until a person is in their mid-20s. 

Drugs can damage the brain and affect its development in ways that could lead to problems later on in life, including addiction and mental health disorders.

If your child or a loved one has started experimenting with drugs or alcohol at an early age (or seems close), then it’s important to seek help right away before they become too entangled with their substance use.

 

Regular substance abuse

Your risk of overdose is higher if you have a history of substance abuse and are using regularly.

Regular use means:

  • Using more than you intended to, more than once or twice a week, or more than what would be considered moderate use
  • Using more money on drugs and alcohol than you can afford, even though you’re going into debt
  • Feeling out of control when using drugs or alcohol.

 

Unsupervised access to prescription medications

One of the most common reasons that people die from overdosing on prescription medications is that they are used in combination with other substances. 

For example, prescription opioids have been shown to increase the effect of alcohol and benzos (such as Xanax and Ativan), so individuals who take this class of drugs mustn’t drink alcohol or use benzos at the same time. 

In addition to prescription opioids, other commonly abused classes of drugs include benzodiazepines (Benzos) and stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.

The rise in overdose deaths has been attributed to increased access to these medications through universal healthcare coverage programs like Medicaid and Medicare Part D plans, which allow patients greater access to their prescriptions without having them filled by a doctor first; this makes it easy for someone who isn’t getting treatment through their primary care physician but still wants some relief from chronic pain or anxiety disorders such as PTSD or OCD symptoms.

 

The presence of other mental health disorders

It’s important to note that the presence of other mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can increase a person’s risk of overdose. 

In addition to this, unstable relationships, unstable employment or housing situations, and financial issues can also increase your chances of an overdose. 

If you are struggling with the above factors you must seek help from a professional immediately!

 

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is a major contributing factor to an overdose death. A study from 2013 found that people who reported experiencing chronic stress were twice as likely to report problems with drug use, particularly when it came to smoking and injection drug use. 

Stress can increase your risk of relapse after quitting drugs; it can also make it difficult for you to quit in the first place. 

For example, research shows that people who experience stressful life events like divorce or unemployment are more likely than others to start using cocaine again after having previously stopped

—often within three months of their period of abstinence.

 

Low self-esteem

One of the most common things that can lead to low self-worth is low self-esteem. 

If you don’t feel good about yourself and your life, it can be difficult to feel comfortable with the choices you make. 

Having low self-esteem can also cause feelings of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Low self-worth is often associated with trauma or abuse in childhood—a traumatic event may have caused you to develop feelings of guilt or shame about yourself.

 

Social isolation

The first and most important thing to remember is that social isolation is a risk factor for overdose. This means that your risk of overdose increases if you:

  • Are alone
  • Do not have friends and family who can help you quit using drugs or alcohol
  • Feel like the only person struggling with addiction in your life

People who live with addiction may feel a lot of pressure to keep their problems hidden, but it’s important to reach out and find support. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends connecting with other people who are going through similar experiences and attending 12-step meetings as an effective way to gain help, build relationships, and get support from others who understand what you’re going through. 

If this seems overwhelming at first, consider starting small—maybe just one friend or family member will be enough support for now.

 

Traumatic life experiences

You may be more at risk of overdose if you’ve had traumatic life experiences, such as:

  • The presence of other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
  • Chronic stress and low self-esteem
  • Social isolation.

 

It is important to be aware of the factors that increase your risk of overdose

It is important to be aware of the factors that increase your risk of overdose. Not everyone has the same set of risk factors, so you may have a higher risk for overdose than someone else. 

Many different things can increase your chance of overdosing if you use drugs:

  • Your individual history with drug use and any past health issues you may have had (for example, an eating disorder)
  • The type and amount of drugs you take and how often you take them
  • Whether you are alone or with other people when using drugs

In conclusion, it is important to be aware of what might put you at risk for an overdose. 

If you or someone you know has been affected by a substance use disorder, please reach out to a medical professional for help.

 

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