Fatal Drug Overdoses Most Likely to Occur During a Relapse

Addiction is a complex lifestyle disease. The journey to recovery often includes setbacks, including the risk of relapse. In fact, as many as 60% of people being treated for addiction to drugs and/or alcohol relapse within a year, according to a 2014 study. And that number may be on the rise, as alarming new research shows that drug overdose deaths are increasing nationwide. Drug overdoses are more likely to be deadly in recovering addicts when they relapse because their bodies are no longer adapted to previous drug exposure.

Recovering drug addicts who are most likely to relapse include those who:

  • Did not participate in accompanying treatment after detoxification
  • Were previously incarcerated, resulting in a lower tolerance
  • Abruptly stopped taking medication that aids recovery

It may be perplexing as to why a recovering drug addict would risk their hard-earned sobriety just to get high, especially when their relationships, career, freedom, and very lives are placed in jeopardy by doing so. However, the tendency for addicts to relapse can be explained by brain chemistry. The reason a person becomes addicted to any given substance is that it ignites the reward pathway in the brain by releasing a chemical called dopamine. This neurotransmitter helps regulate the pleasure centers of the brain. By altering brain chemistry over time, drug abuse effectively takes addicts to the point of prioritizing the need to get high over their desire to protect their health and safety. The brain is also changed by drug abuse as it erodes the prefrontal cortex, which is the area involved with decision making and planning. Changes to the brain may also change a person’s personality and behavior.

Drug Overdose Deaths on the Rise Nationwide

An overdose results when a toxic amount of a drug, or combination of drugs, is taken and the body cannot detoxify the drug fast enough. Sometimes it is unknown whether the overdose was accidental or intentional, especially in fatal drug overdoses. However, recent research published by the Commonwealth Fund reported that deaths from suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol have reached an all-time high in the United States.

Decision Point Center Can Help You Get Sober and Stay Sober

Relapse isn’t a sign of personal failure. Addiction is a disease, and it affects the way the brain functions. Addiction cannot be cured, which is why a person is always “recovering” from it. Recovery is a fluid process and, if you relapse, it’s a sign you need to alter your treatment. Decision Point Center can help you get sober and live your most fulfilling life by teaching you how to cope without drugs.

Do you have questions about the therapies and treatments offered at Decision Point Center? Contact us by calling (844) 292-5010 today to learn more.

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