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Five ways to tell if someone is experiencing an overdose

September 19, 2023 

In Illinois, there were 3,762 overdose deaths in 2021, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. A majority of these deaths involved synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. 

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), observed annually on Aug. 31, seeks to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind. It is also an opportunity to educate people that overdose death is preventable and raise awareness about ways to help those struggling with substance abuse issues. 

HSHS Holy Family Hospital is recognizing IOAD by sharing information on how to recognize if someone in experiencing an overdose. Signs may include: 

• Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness 

• Slow, weak, or no breathing 

• Snoring, choking or gurgling sounds 

• Cold and/or clammy skin 

• Discolored skin (especially in lips and nails) 

Holy Family Hospital’s Assistant Manager of Nursing Cindy Crouch, RN, said, “It can be difficult to tell if a person who is using opioids is very high or experiencing an overdose. If you aren’t sure, it is best to treat the situation like an overdose. By calling 911 immediately or administrating NARCAN if it’s available, you could save their life,” she said. 

Holy Family Hospital has partnerships in place to offer a pathway to hope and recovery for those struggling with substance abuse issues. HSHS hospitals in Illinois, including Holy Family Hospital, have a substance abuse, treatment and recovery program in conjunction with Gateway Foundation available to patients in the emergency department as well as throughout the hospital. 

The program focuses on warm handoff services for the treatment and recovery of patients who present with substance use disorder. A team of experienced individuals work to identify, screen and transition patients from the emergency department or inpatient unit directly to a treatment bed upon discharge as needed. The program’s focus is to intercept those in crisis and shepherd them to care. 

Local Overdose Awareness Day Event 
Local communities in the Bond County area and others around the world are coming together to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose. 

The Bond County Recovery Council Overdose Awareness event will be held on Thursday, Aug. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Courthouse lawn at 200 West College Avenue in Greenville. HSHS Holy Family Hospital will have a table at the event in support of the event. This event will join residents of Bond County to a global movement for understanding, compassion and change. 

Crouch shared, “We are honored to participate in this event and offer our support for those who have lost loved ones to substance abuse. It also offers a chance to provide education on programs in place to help those in crisis such as the warm handoff program we have at Holy Family Hospital in partnership with the Gateway Foundation. With this program, we are doubling our efforts in getting our patients the critical resources and support at the bedside in real-time to get the help they need.” 

For more information about the Bond County Overdose Awareness Event, visit the Bond County Recovery Council Facebook page, facebook.com/BondCountyRecoveryCouncil. 

If you or someone you love are struggling with substance abuse, please visit cdc.gov/rxawareness/treatment for treatment and recovery resources. 

Five ways to tell if someone is experiencing an overdose