We have detected Lahore as your city

International Overdose Awareness Day 2021: Ending the Stigma

3 min read

Find & Book the best "Psychiatrists" near you

International Overdose Awareness Day is an event held on 31st August every year worldwide. It is intended to spread awareness regarding overdose and reduce the stigma of deaths caused due to overdose.

This day also serves the purpose of remembering those who have lost their lives because of overdose. It is also a friendly reminder to us to refrain from drug abuse and self-medication which often lead to an overdose.

What is an Overdose?

Overdose (OD) or Drug Overdose is the above medically recommended consumption of medicines, alcohol, or any other legal or illegal substance. It can be accidental or intentional and can lead to serious medical complications or even death.

The type of drug, amount ingested and the medical history of the person who overdosed determines its severity.

What Are the Types of an Overdose?

Overdose can be broadly categorized into two main types which are:

1. Opioid Overdose

According to the National Cancer Institute, an opioid is defined as “a substance used to treat moderate to severe pain.” Opioids are a class of drugs used for the management of pain and their compounds are extracted from the poppy seed of the opium poppy plant. Common types of opioids include:

  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine

The excess consumption or prolonged use of opioids is not recommended as it can deteriorate health or even cause death. It can also lead to complications such as opioid dependence. Opioid dependence can cause a person to experience withdrawal symptoms if consumption of opioids is stopped or reduced.

An opioid overdoes can be identified with the following 3 signs:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Unconciousness
  • Pinpoint Pupils

According to the World Health Organization, the death toll attributed to opioid overdose was nearly 115,000 in 2017. Self-medication is becoming increasingly prevalent nowadays. Due to this reason, the worldwide cases of opioid overdose are increasing.

To prevent an adverse reaction to medication like an overdose, it is important to always consult with a doctor or a medical expert before taking any medication.

2. Recreational Drug Overdose

Recreational drug overdose is caused by substances that are taken for the sake of pleasure and enjoyment rather than medical reasons. Their prolonged use is not recommended and may lead to addiction, severe health problems, substance use disorder (SUD), or overdose which may lead to death.

Drug abuse is common among the younger population especially teenagers. Teens may want to experiment with an illicit substance to get high or maybe be pressurized o do so by their friends.

Some people may also take recreational drugs to escape from their worries and problems or combat depression. Common types of recreational drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • Cannabis
  • Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth)

Some signs and symptoms of recreational drug users are:

  • Loss of apetite
  • Lack of socialization
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Regaularly in need for money
  • Running away from responsibilities
  • Frequently getting into trouble
  • Glassy or red eyes

If someone you know is showing these symptoms, you should reach out to them and offer your help before it’s too late.

Overdose Facts

Given below are some facts related to overdose:

  • 115,00 – 230,100 premature deaths were caused by drugs globally in 2019
  • Almost 275 million people worldwide used drugs at least once in 2019
  • Since 1999, 841,000 deaths have been caused by a drug overdose

Overdose in Pakistan

Drug overdose in Pakistan is a growing concern. The Anti-Narcotics Force which is a federal executive bureau of the Pakistani government is playing its role in reducing drug addiction in Pakistan by abolishing the smuggling of drugs and controlling their illicit use in the country.

Drug addiction in Pakistan is on the rise. Here are some facts you need to know:

  • An estimated 7 million people in Pakistan are involved in the use of drugs. 4 million among them are cannabis users while 2.7 million are opiod users
  • Above 14,000 people suffering from drug addiction in Pakistan have been treated by ANF’s Model Addiction Treatment & Rehabilitation Centres (MATRC) since 2005
  • Since 2014 the ANF has convicted at least 604 people associated with drug trafficiking in Pakistan.

What Are the Most Commonly Used Drugs in Pakistan?

According to research published in the WHO, Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal titled “Profile of drug users in Karachi city, Pakistan” the following are the most commonly used drugs in Pakistan:

Type of DrugPercentage (%)

What Are the Causes of Drug Addiction in Pakistan?

The research also brought to light certain psychological factors leading to drug addiction in Pakistan. They are:

Psychological FactorPercentage (%)
Bad social influences47%
Break-up of a relationship45%
To escape from stressful life events28%
Socio-economic problems23.4%
Feelings of failure18%

What Are the Symptoms of an Overdose?

Following are the common symptoms of a drug overdose. They can vary depending on the type of substance or drug a person took

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Siezures
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain

How to Respond to an Overdose?

If someone near you is experiencing an overdose here’s how you should respond:

  • Stay calm: In the occurance of an overdose you should always stay calm and avoid panicking
  • Call for help: Immediately call for help in case of an overdose. The emergency number to contact in Pakistan is 1122
  • Stay with the person: Don’t leave the person on their own and stay by their side till help arrives
  • Keep the person comfortable: Try talking to the person and assess their response. Keep them in the “recovery position” to prevent choking.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.
Book Appointment with the best "Psychiatrists"