A drug overdose is the worst possible outcome for a person with a substance use disorder. It not only ends the person’s life but can destroy their friends and family as well. The recent Death of rapper DMX from overdose highlights this truth.
If you or a family member have overdosed before, or are using drugs that can lead to an overdose, then you need to be proactive about positive self-care. Identifying the problem is always the first step.
Signs of an Overdose
The most important thing that you can do to prevent an overdose death is to react efficiently and knowledgeably. Learn the signs.
If someone is overdosing on an opiate, for example, their blood pressure, temperature, and heart/respiratory rates decrease and their pupils are constricted, as opposed to an overdose on stimulants where the symptoms are exactly the opposite.
Their skin may be cold and clammy while their body seems limp. They may be passing out repeatedly, or falling asleep, with shallow breathing.
Look for a blue tinge to a person’s lips and fingertips and ask them questions to determine their level of consciousness. A person who overdoses on an opiate may fall asleep and never wake up.
Someone who overdoses on a stimulant can easily have a heart attack if the problem is not prevented through observation and education.
Earl Simmons, the American rapper and actor otherwise known as DMX, has died, passing away from a fatal heart attack caused by an accidental overdose. The attentive father of 15 children had overdosed several times before, and he was only 50 years old.
Severe neglect, poverty, and both physical and psychological abuses that occurred decades ago were still haunting him, following him wherever he went. He was open about his struggles and described them in a way that suggested he understood that the intense trauma he experienced during childhood was still affecting his choices as an adult.
Drugs contributed heavily to the fact that he was jailed at least 30 times for charges such as possession, robbery, and driving under the influence, amongst many others. He was a conflicted man who attended rehabilitation and overdosed several times over the years, to the detriment of friends and family. His past directly influenced his present.
DMX began dealing with alcohol and drug dependency as early as age 14 when an older friend and mentor introduced him to crack cocaine, which became his life-long drug of choice. An aunt reportedly gave him vodka when he was seven, and he proceeded to get drunk for the first time.
Though he recognized his need for help and admitted when he made mistakes, his mental health continued to deteriorate. His choices became more erratic and self-defeating, and it seems that his needs were never met when he searched for guidance. He died of a disease that can be treated because he was psychologically detached during the ineffective one-size-fits-all therapy structure of some rehab centers.
DMX needed something different. He needed to be reached in a different way. Constructive help, individualized care, and compassionate support may have kept him from overdosing and saved his life.
DMX Overdose and Prevention
Did you know that 3 out of 5 people who die from an overdose actually had access to the necessary care that they needed to regain their mental health? The problem is the negative stigma around asking for help. Some people see it as a weakness but identifying your problem, especially in front of witnesses, increases your awareness of your behaviors and subtly gives permission for others to check up on you, to intervene if there is a problem.
There are several ways to help prevent an overdose in someone that you love:
- Become familiar with signs of drug use and observe the people around you
- Create a plan to get help, even if it isn’t initiated right away. Collect phone numbers, web addresses, or simply create a list of names of people and rehabilitation centers that you can call for help. Quick access is key.
- Keep Narcan, or naloxone, nearby and learn how to use it.
- Engage with the person you are concerned about. Do they have a history of mental health issues? Do they have a current drug problem? Have they overdosed before?
- Remember, just because you didn’t see someone take a drug, doesn’t mean that they didn’t. It’s easy to hide, which makes identifying any problems more difficult. The drugs can be taken secretly but 40% of overdoses happen in front of someone else.
No matter what, freeing yourself, or a family member, from addiction, is necessary and access to care is easier than some may expect. You deserve a supportive and proven reliable rehabilitation plan that addresses your personal needs directly. We want to get to the cause of the addiction, not just treat the symptoms.
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First Steps Recovery has the most attentive and consistent help, from our first introduction forward. Our addiction treatment center in Fresno, California, specializes in unique and personalized care that gets to the root of the problem.