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Don't Let Prescription Drug Abusers "Sleep It Off"
Telling someone to “Go home, and sleep it off” is potentially fatal advice, say medical professionals.
We’ve all heard, “You’ve had enough – time to go home and sleep it off!” so many times, it’s become almost part of our drugs-and-alcohol culture. Many of us have given that advice, and probably received it more than once too.
But the truth is, that advice is the exact opposite of what someone in that condition should do. People who are drunk or dopey from drugs or alcohol should be gotten up onto their feet and made to walk around and look at things until they appear alert and can stand and walk on their own.
Prescription drugs such as painkillers, anxiety medication and sleeping pills, as well as excessive alcohol – and especially painkillers and alcohol together – can sedate a person to the point where he or she stops breathing. From that point on, it’s only a few minutes to brain damage, and a couple more ’til death.
That’s the story from Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center, who deals with countless poisoning and overdose victims every year. The center has seen a lot of mistakes made, some fatal, and among them is the bad advice to “sleep it off”.
To increase awareness of the bad advice, the center is sponsoring a “Don’t Sleep It Off” campaign, and distributing fliers to drug-awareness groups. The fliers say:
Call their name. Shake them. Try to wake them up.
If you can’t wake them up, immediately call 911.
According to Dr. Lewis-Younger, once people get to the hospital, most of them will survive.
Fortunately, the “Don’t Sleep It Off” campaign is catching on. “I’ve heard that there have been parents out there on the street handing out the fliers,” she told the Fort Meyers News-Press recently.
Prescription drugs are potentially toxic
Rarely does a day go by that someone doesn’t fall victim to a prescription drug overdose or a bad reaction to some combination of drugs. Most of the time, someone dials 911 – and then comes the breathless wait for the arrival of the ambulance.
But often, people call Florida Poison Information Center with questions about this or that prescription drug – and even about people exhibiting signs of overdose.
The center offers valuable information for the public on its website about commonly abused prescription drugs, as well as advice about what to do when suspected poisonings occur.
A poison information center may not seem like the kind of institution on the front lines of prescription drug abuse. But all drugs, when abused and overused, can suddenly become toxic and even deadly. And these days, prescription drugs lead the list.
A serious problem – overdose symptoms are hard to detect
Many people don’t realize that no two people react to a prescription drug the same way. While one person is getting high and seems fine, another on the same dose can suddenly be minutes from death. Overdose happens unexpectedly, and kills silently.
The problem is made worse because the transition from breathing to not breathing, and from there to death, is almost imperceptible – especially to anyone who has also been using or abusing.
Taking care of someone in a state of near-overdose means getting them up on their feet, walking them around, and getting them talking and looking around at things.
And if you’re in that condition yourself, you have to dig deep and get yourself up and moving. To ignore the situation and do otherwise can be fatal.
Florida deaths from prescription drugs at record levels
Prescription drugs kill more Floridians than illicit street drugs. Prescription drug abuse killed 2,710 people last year, up nearly 10 percent from a year earlier.
That’s why the demand for prescription drug detox has become one of the most sought-after treatments in the state.
Novus Medical Detox Center, in Pasco Country, Florida, provides up-to-the-minute prescription drug detox programs, tailored precisely to each patient’s personal situation.
If you or someone you know has a problem with prescription drug abuse, don’t wait until a 911 situation catches you by surprise. Call Novus today and get the help you need.
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