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Affinity Health Recognises International Overdose Awareness Day

06 September 2021 Affinity Health

As leading medical insurance providers in SA, Affinity Health raises awareness around the growing problem of drug addiction and overdose deaths.

What are the Dangers of Drug Addiction?
Some people assume that abusing prescription drugs is safer than illegal street drugs. That isn't the case at all. Prescription drug abuse is responsible for 60% of all overdose deaths worldwide.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on 31 August. This annual occasion brings issues related to overdoses to the forefront, particularly in the context of COVID-19. The day also serves as a reminder that every life is precious and holds meaning and value.

Sadly, drug-related deaths are often pushed under the rug. Affected families hide in the shadows, humiliated and scared of being judged by society. No one expects to become hooked when they first take drugs. Most addicts start out believing that they can stop using drugs whenever they choose.

Options Behavioural Health Hospital states that while certain people are more at risk for substance abuse and for developing addiction disorders than others. However, researchers have yet to unearth a single factor responsible for the misuse of drugs.

Drug abuse can find its way into even the most stable and loving home. With expensive illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin out of reach for many, they're turning to a range of other options to get high. The addiction among South African to prescription drugs, in particular, is of growing concern. The issue has been exacerbated by the stress brought about by the coronavirus global pandemic.

Since the early 1990s, the availability and usage of illicit drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines, and ecstasy has steadily increased in South Africa.

According to research, the primary illicit substance at admission to South African drug treatment centres is cannabis.

However, the Foundation for A Drug-Free World says that the abuse of prescription meds, particularly anti-anxiety medication and opioid painkillers, is snowballing. Depressants, opioids, and antidepressants are responsible for more overdose deaths than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and amphetamines combined.

Ironically, the South African Depression & Anxiety Group states that over 50% of all prescription medications for nonmedical use are obtained from a friend or family member.

"The reality is that addiction to any medication will have devastating consequences to your health," says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

Overdosing – whether accidental or intentional – can cause serious damage to your body, including severe chest pain, seizures, migraine, difficulty breathing, liver damage, coma, and death."

What Increases the Risk of Drug Addiction?

• You're taking several different medications.
• You do not correctly follow your doctor's or pharmacist's recommendations.
• You're taking many medicines that contain the same active component (for example, two anti-anxiety tablets with different brand names but the same active ingredient will result in you taking twice the dose).
• The medicine is more potent than you anticipated (even if you've taken it previously, medications with the same brand name exist in varying strengths, so it's always crucial to read the label).
• You lose track of how much medication you've previously consumed.
• The medicine is mixed with alcohol.

Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to avoid overdosing on prescription medications.
Recognising early warning signs of addiction is maybe the most important step.

Seek help if:
• Your family, friends, or work colleagues have highlighted a sudden or radical shift in your behaviour or personality take their concerns seriously.
• You experience changes in your sleeping and eating habits
• You become irritable or withdrawn
• You start using prescriptions at a much faster rate than prescribed
• You are tempted to seal or forge prescriptions
• You start "borrowing" prescription medications from others.
• You begin experiencing sudden abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle and bone pain, sweating, chills, goosebumps, or dilated pupils.

Where to get help
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, there are several organisations you can reach out to.

These include:
· SANCA 24 Hour Helpline: 0861472622
· Sanofi-Synthelabo, dedicated to substance abuse disorders: 0800 118 392
· SADAG: 080 012 1314
· National Substance Abuse Helpline - 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312
· Narcotics Anonymous - 083 900 69 62

Quick Polls

QUESTION

As National Treasury mulls a two-bucket retirement system, mandatory contributions and preservation, regulation 28 is being amended to allow up to 40% of retirement fund assets to be invested in SA-based infrastructure… Which of the following retirement fund ‘tweaks’ would you consider most beneficial to your clients?

ANSWER

Give fund members emergency access to retirement savings
Let fund members invest 40% in infrastructure
Let fund members invest 40% offshore
Mandatory preservation when resigning from a fund
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