According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017. It’s tempting for those people who say “that would never happen to me” to imagine that most of these deaths took place in club bathrooms or seedy alleys, but the truth is overdose can happen anywhere. According to one study, more than half occur at home, and a substantial number happen in hospital emergency rooms or other medical facilities. Believe it or not, overdoses even happen at rehab centers.
In May 2018, a residential facility called First Step of Sarasota, located in Sarasota, Florida, made news when eight patients overdosed at the same time. A resident of the facility had brought GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy, onto the grounds and shared it with the seven other individuals. All of them were rushed to the hospital and survived, but the incident raised questions about how such a thing could be possible.
You’d think that an addiction treatment facility would be an unlikely place to overdose, as presumably the residents are checked for drugs, but the Florida incident was hardly the first of its kind, and it unfortunately won’t be the last. People find all sort of ways to sneak drugs into rehab. Although their belongings are usually checked, people will sometimes hide things in their bras or belts. Patients also have visitors bring them drugs. As crazy as it sounds, new patients sometimes overdose in treatment center lobbies while filling out admission paperwork, wanting to get that one last hit in before they’re cut off from their supply.
The staff at treatment facilities aren’t immune to the lure of drugs, either. In May of 2017, two counselors at an addiction facility in southeastern Pennsylvania died after overdosing on opioids. Freedom Ridge Recovery Lodge, a private group home and halfway house, had six recovering addicts and the two live-in counselors. No one was sure where the two men obtained the drugs – heroin mixed with fentanyl – but it appeared to be from an outside source and not someone living at the facility.
Another problem with any facility that has medications on site is that the staff members can easily access them for personal use, or to give or sell to residents. The medical field is notorious for addiction, both because of that easy access and because of the stress of the job.
While some situations are unavoidable, if you’re looking into getting help at a treatment facility, don’t let these stories scare you away. The best thing you can do is research thoroughly before you choose a program. Read reviews and search for any news articles about the place. Check for information on the staff, and make sure everyone is appropriately licensed and accredited.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.