The Most Effective Way to Prevent Overdose – Say No to drugs!

August 31 is International Drug Overdose Awareness Day. The events held on this day and the information provided remind the public that tens of thousands of people die each year from drug overdoses. At the same time, the main message of the day is that tragedy can be avoided!

The Center for Mental Health and  Prevention of addiction is joining an international campaign to raise awareness about overdose. Within the framework of the information campaign, we are talking to Khatuna Todadze, Deputy Director General of the Center, Professor of Tbilisi State Medical University

Worldwide, despite preventive measures, the number of drug overdoses and deaths caused by it has not decreased, and in many countries, in recent years, there has been an increase. There are several reasons for this: an increase in drug use in general, the appearance of large amounts of new psychoactive substances on the drug market, some of which have high lethal potentials, an increase in the use of synthetic drugs whose properties are unknown, two or more narcotic / psychotropic Consumption, stigma associated with drug overdose, etc.

  • Which drugs are the most common fatal overdoses?

More than 75% of fatal overdoses worldwide are caused by opioids: both natural opiates – heroin, morphine, and synthetic substances, of which fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances are considered to be particularly “killer drugs.” Opioids act on vital functions, including the respiratory center. In case of overdose, the respiratory center is blocked and breathing stops, which causes rapid death. Increases the risk of opioid overdose by injecting them and taking other drugs and psychotropic substances in combination with opioids. Of the psychotropic substances that increase the risk of opioid overdose, sedatives, hypnotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and alcohol are particularly noteworthy.

25% of fatal overdoses come from non-opioid-type drugs, both stimulants and stimulants and psychedelic (hallucinogenic) drugs. In recent years, many deaths have been reported with the use of amphetamines and methamphetamines, ecstasy and its analogues, GHB / GBL, synthetic cabinoids (so-called “bio”).

It is especially dangerous for the so-called New psychoactive substances (AFS), because, often, the consumer does not know exactly what substance he bought, what are the symptoms of its action and in what doses he should take it. However, often two or more substances are mixed in one package, which enhances their toxic effects. It should be noted that it is also difficult for physicians who come to the rescue often to determine what type of substance is causing the intoxication, as information about a specific APN may not yet be known and provided to medical professionals. This makes it difficult to provide targeted, effective medical care.

  • Consumer attitudes are more loyal to the so-called. With regard to club drugs, how high is the risk of overdose in case of their use?

The so-called Club drugs may also be the cause of death, which, unfortunately, is also known to our society on the example of Georgia. Even in this case, people often do not know whether the drug offered to them is really the name of what the drug dealer tells him. Moreover, it may not even be known to the drug dealer himself. In addition, alcohol is often added to the club. Some club drugs cause a rise in body temperature, which along with opalescence causes water loss and dehydration from the body, which may lead to deteriorating health.

Newcomers are especially at risk because their bodies are not accustomed to drugs, they do not know how to consume, they often mix different substances. It is noteworthy that an inexperienced person, in the face of blurring, often does not realize that he is ill and needs help.

  • In this case, what is the main recommendation for consumers and their relatives?

When I talk about the stigma of overdose, I mean that both the consumer and his relatives often avoid calling for medical help. The main reason for this is the fear that they will not fall into the sight of the police. Previously the ambulance brigade or hospital was obliged to report the fact of drug overdose to the police. In 2014, the Minister of Health issued an order relieving medical staff of this obligation. Now the ambulance called for the fact of drug intoxication is no longer followed by the law enforcement brigade and they are not given any information about the person who is intoxicated. However, fear still remained. But how many people have survived the doctors who arrived on time!

There are many ways to prevent overdose, but the most effective is at least one: do not take risks, say no to drugs!