The Mental Blind Spot that Causes Prescription Drug Overdose
What are blind spots? In a car, they are the areas around the car that we can’t see through either the rear or side view mirrors. Just little slivers of invisibility that happen to cause many car accidents when we don’t see a car moving up beside us as we change lanes.
A mental blind spot acts similarly. Something is hiding from us and, unless we know and are willing to face up to the fact that something could be there and that it could be dangerous, chances are we’re not even going to look in that direction.
Such is the case with prescription drugs.
According to a recent study, people who use prescription drugs have very little information about the safety of the drugs, what could cause an overdose, how to prevent it, and what should be done if they overdose despite what they’ve learned or done.
Heroin users on the street know all about it. They know that the drug they’re using can kill them. They know, for example, that every batch of heroin they buy can’t be relied upon to be the same dose as the last batch they bought. They know that they can’t mix it with other drugs that have a similar effect on the body. And they know that all the elements that could contribute to overdose are not under their control.
So … they get educated. And they take precautions. Like having Naloxone – which can reverse the effects of an overdose if taken in time – on hand. And their friends and family might also have Naloxone, as will police, hospital emergency rooms and other people that come into contact with people who have overdosed.
People using prescription drugs – like the painkillers Oxycontin or hydrocodone – tend to not have all that information. And they don’t even try to get it. Why don’t prescription drugs users know these things and also take precautions?
Their blind spot.
According to the study, they don’t think of themselves as drug addicts, or even as people taking dangerous drugs.
The drugs are prescribed by a doctor, so they must be safe. They think.
More importantly, they associate overdose with people like ‘heroin addicts’. They’re unsavory people who shoot or snort drugs in restaurant bathrooms, alleyways, and flop houses where the floors are covered with dirty mattresses.
But that’s not them! They’re in their nice middle class home, dad’s at the office, the kids are off to school, the house is clean, the whole family has dinner together – made by the soccer mom. They have enough money to pay their bills, send their kids to college, eat well, get medical care when needed, get their hair and nails done and go to the gym to stay in shape.
How can they possibly be a drug addict?!
They can’t. That’s just not them. They’re not like those heroin addicts.
For them to find out all they need to know to prevent overdose or have the best chance of living through it, they would have to admit something that they’re just not willing to admit.
That’s a major reason why so many people who would never think of themselves as addicts are dying from prescription drug overdoses.
They were killed by their blind spot.
Ignorance may be bliss in some situations, but this is certainly not one of them.
If you know anyone taking prescription drugs, make sure they know that they’re at just as much risk as ‘those heroin addicts’ and that, if they want to try to prevent overdoses or have the best chance of living through one, they need to learn all about it.
Better yet, get them into a good drug rehab program so death by overdose will not be an option.