SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Every day, lives are lost to overdose in the United States. International Overdose Awareness Day is a way to remember those who have died, as well as work to put an end to overdose.

Malia Holbeck, a manager with Avera Inpatient Behavioral Health Services, talks about overdose resources and how to overcome the stigma.

“Overdose is when an individual would take a larger amount of opioids that leads the body to stop breathing,” Holbeck said. “An opioid is a drug that naturally tends to calm down the body system and cause a person to get sleepy. So, when an individual takes that drug — especially in larger amounts — it can cause that individual to get into a state where they are nodding off, they are falling asleep, and their brain starts to lose that ability to be able to send those alarm systems to that individual, to let them know that something is wrong, and they are not able to realize that their body is slowing the heart rate down or that breathing is starting to slow down or to stop.”

Avera offers resources to those struggling with addiction or substance use disorder.

“Avera offers addictions assessments. So what that looks like is just being able to sit down with the addictions counselor or addictions professional, and what that individual will do is meet with that person to get a better understanding of the severity of their problem. And then what they will do with that information is provide a good plan or recommendations for what’s going to be most helpful for that person to be able to get into recovery. Sometimes what that plan includes is inpatient or outpatient treatment services — Avera offers those programs and those levels of care. Another opportunity that Avera does provide is medications that also help with improving outcomes of sobriety for individuals who struggle with an opioid use disorder. So this can be an individual who would be able to meet with a provider such as a doctor or psychiatrist and talk to their provider to see if that’s going to be a good option for that individual. Those medications can be really helpful because they really help with reducing the cravings that someone will have when they’re in that recovery phase and — in combination with those counseling or behavioral therapies — can really improve outcomes for that person who’s trying to get into recovery.”

Holbeck shared about Emily’s Hope and what the organization offers.

“We’ve been able to partner with Emily’s Hope, which has been a great resource for our patients who are seeking help. Oftentimes, treatment can have financial costs that go along with that, that can be a barrier for people to want to enter into treatment. So Emily’s Hope was really wanting to be able to find a way to be able to reduce those barriers for people to get access to treatment, providing some financial assistance that would offset that cost of being able to get into treatment.”

“There are many signs, and it’s going to look different for each person, but a few things that can be some of those red flags that it might have started or that it’s become an issue for someone is the amounts and the frequency of the substance is starting to increase over time. You might also start to see that individual is losing control of their ability to be able to reduce or to stop that substance. People’s physical appearances start to change where you can start to notice that it might start to have an impact on people’s ability to be able to do some of those daily activities — daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, being able to get to work.”

For more information on overdose prevention, visit

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