The death of a loved one can be a crushing blow to a person, but it can also be the beginning of a new life.
With a growing body of research linking drugs to health problems and death, some experts are warning that the overdose of a drug can also trigger a deadly relapse.
“There is an emerging body of evidence suggesting that the drug abuse and drug dependence [and] drug abuse is a predictor of the subsequent death,” said Dr. Mark Reisberg, an addiction psychiatrist at Boston University School of Medicine and the co-author of a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Monday that called for the drug overdose epidemic to be “redefined.”
“The number of people that are using opioids for the first time is growing and increasing, and it is also growing and growing.
There is a lot of overlap between these two,” Reisbund told Business Insider.
He’s talking about the “primary psychoactive substance” that includes heroin, morphine and oxycodone, among other drugs.
But he’s also talking about fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that can be laced with fentanyl.
“We know that there is overlap between opioid-related deaths and opioid-induced deaths, and there is also overlap between people that overdose on fentanyl and those that overdose of opioids,” Reischberg said.
“So there are a lot more people that die from overdose on opioids, but there are also people that have died from overdose of other drugs.”
The National Institutes of Health estimates that the opioid epidemic is the worst in modern history.
It’s also responsible for more than 1 million overdose deaths and the deaths of more than 3.5 million people.
“These are the people that we need to treat,” Reishberg said of the opioid crisis.
“We need to educate people, we need the opioid overdose epidemic in America to be defined as the opioid-associated mortality crisis.”
The researchers examined the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System, the largest data set on overdose deaths in the United States.
They found that the vast majority of deaths were caused by drugs other than opioids, like alcohol, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills.
The researchers also found that people who used opioids for non-medical purposes were less likely to die from overdoses.
People who used drugs for recreational purposes were more likely to overdose, the researchers found.
“This is a very, very small percentage of people, and they’re the ones that are most at risk,” Reisman said.
“So, we should be talking about this, we ought to be educating people about these other drug use.
There’s a lot to be done, but at the end of the day, it’s a problem that needs to be fixed.”
The study also found there was a link between the type of drug used and the likelihood of a person overdosing.
“The more opioid users, the more likely they are to overdose on heroin,” Reiser said.
That link could have an impact on how states treat those who are addicted to opioids.
For example, in some states, a person with a previous opioid addiction could be sent to prison for up to two years if he or she dies while using a drug.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also working on ways to better target resources to those who need it most.