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Are Overdoses Intentional?


Overdoses are largely unintentional. Suddenly losing someone to overdose is an overwhelming and confusing event- did they intend to end their lives, or was the overdose accidental? The large majority of drug overdoses are classified as accidental. According to the North Carolina Controlled Substance Reporting System, 12% of drug overdose deaths in 2014 were self-inflicted. Prescription opioids accounted for the highest rate of both self-inflicted and unintentional overdoses. Benzodiazepines were ranked second on the list. 

What Do These Studies Reveal?

While the vast majority of drug overdoses are unintentional, studies like the one from North Carolina reveal that there is more research to be done in this area. Mental health disorders can play a huge role in whether or not an overdose was intentional. Though a mental health disorder is not a pre-requisite for the intentional attempt at ending one’s own life, very often mental illness is involved.  Addressing mental health issues in accordance with the impulse to self-harm is critical to gaining insight into the personal, mental, and emotional influences on intentional overdose. Increased regulation and monitoring of opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions, is also critical to attempting control over the amount of potentially fatal medication any one person is holding onto at any one time.

Prevention of Intentional and Unintentional Overdoses

Policy-makers, mental health professionals, treatment systems, scientists, and individuals seeking recovery must increase their levels of awareness around drug overdoses, mental health risk factors, and the use of prescription medication. Awareness is always the first step toward change and healing. By conducting more research, providing more educational information to the public, and equipping families around the world with the skills they need to mitigate addiction, in addition to other mental illnesses, together we can create change and manifest profound healing around the world. 


Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today:  561-841-1296

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.