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Your Healthy Family: Drug overdoses continue to rise

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day
Posted at 8:47 AM, Aug 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-31 08:47:22-04

NAPLES, Fla. — August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. It's a day to raise awareness about just how common drug overdose is. The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health in Naples says it can happen to anyone and doesn't discriminate.

The CDC predicts almost 110,000 overdose deaths in our country in the 12 month period ending in February 2023.

Cory Webster works at the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, but her journey there started with a drug overdose.

“My parents got a divorce when I was about 18. And I just started experimenting with substances. And then I never stopped,” she said.

She got two DUIs and ended up on probation both times. But in December of 2017, she said she overdosed while driving down I-75, blacked out and drove off the road into a fence. She said a Florida Highway Patrol trooper found her without a pulse and gave her CPR until she came back to life. She spent 30 days in jail and said that was her rock bottom.

"My whole life, I felt like I was taking two steps forward and three steps backward. And I was just tired of living that way. And that's when I found David Lawrence Center and pled into the Drug Court program," Webster said.

For more than a year, she's worked at the David Lawrence Centers, sharing her story and showing others the way: a role that's even more important as overdoses continue to rise.

"We're seeing a spike in overdoses and overdose deaths, and in people being in overdose being reversed with narcan," Maggie Baldwin, the Director of the Crossroads Continuum at David Lawrence Centers, said.

She said she sees opioid overdoses every day.

"It affects people from all walks of life. It doesn't matter what your socioeconomic status is, gender, beliefs,” she said. “We do a very thorough assessment of everyone that comes through our doors to identify the appropriate levels of care and we do meet clients where they're at."

One person may need detox and withdrawal management, another may benefit from a residential program, while someone else may need medication-assisted treatment.

If you suspect a family member is abusing opioids, Baldwin said the best thing to do is talk to them.

"Say 'I'm worried about you.' Remove the shame. Having an open and honest conversation about 'Hey, I'm seeing this. I'm worried I know how dangerous this is. And let's get you some help,'" she said.

If you are struggling with opioids, Baldwin said don't wait to get help.

"This is an incredibly dangerous epidemic. I've seen so many people recover. That's the other piece of this, recovery works. It works. We see it," she said.

And Webster is the perfect example.

"It gets a lot better when you just ask for help, surrender, and take that leap of faith," Webster said.

To learn more about the help available at the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health, click here.