Parent Training: Drug Overdose Death Rates Rise

By Greg Baer M.D.

September 1, 2023


In May 2023, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. declared 109,680 overdose deaths from 2022, slightly higher than in 2021. The incidence of deaths among those ages 10-19 years increased over 100% from the two years prior to the 2022 report.

But our brains and hearts detach from such overwhelming statistics. Let’s re-frame these numbers: During the entire Vietnam War, 58,000 U.S. soldiers died.

Drugs are killing FAR more people each year than the Vietnam war did in 20 years. Drugs are killing people in this country at roughly the rate of military deaths in World War Two. Astonishing.  

The CDC also states that “For every drug overdose that results in death, there are many more nonfatal overdoses, each one with its own emotional and economic toll.”  

Solutions for the Drug Overdose Problem

Enough grim numbers. What are we doing about this deadly problem?  

  • Jailing drug dealers 
  • Building more drug rehabilitation centers 
  • Creating outpatient drug treatment programs 
  • Teaching kids to “just say no” 
  • Providing naloxone—a narcotic receptor blocker—over the counter and in vending machines  

But all these “solutions” are no more effective than buying more towels to mop up the water that keeps mysteriously pouring out onto the floors of our house.

Mopping up certainly has its place, but at some point—some early point, preferably—we have to ask where the water is coming from.  

Why are There So Many Drug Overdose Deaths?

We have to ask WHY we are seeing all these overdoses. What is the CAUSE of all these dead human bodies—children’s bodies—and crippled souls?  

On the CDC website, there is a page titled “Understanding Drug Overdoses and Deaths.” On that “understanding” page there isn’t a single clear answer to the “why” question.

And countless other sources blame the government, lack of law enforcement, too much law enforcement, lack of treatment, racism, socio-economic forces, and on and on.

But all that blaming isn’t making any difference to the people who are sick and dying.  

And there IS AN ANSWER to why people use drugs. Let me prove it. Very few people die while using drugs properly as prescribed for physical pain (Footnote 1 below).

Rather, the drug overdoses occur in people who are treating their EMOTIONAL pain.

Intuitively, everyone knows this, and I emphatically confirm it. 

The Underlying Cause of Drug Use

Why do our children use drugs? THIS is THE question. Until you can answer it, you will be confused and helpless with your child. And almost no experts can answer it. 

We cannot understand our children until we first realize that what we all need more than anything is to feel LOVED. Every study confirms that love is THE thing, and we cannot be happy without it. An author of the largest study declared, “Happiness IS love. Full stop.”

Without sufficient love, our children WILL be in pain. They feel small and helpless, and they HATE that. Then many of them use drugs to treat their emotional pain. Full stop.

They overdose because they get careless in their desperation to eliminate that pain. Full stop again.  

Listen closely: Our children are in pain because they don’t feel sufficiently loved BY US.

Yes, I know you love your children as well as you can, but YOU were not given the KIND of love YOU needed as a child either, so you don’t have that kind of love to give.

LOVE is both the reason for our children’s pain and also the answer. But we must understand that NOT just any kind of love will do.  

What we all need is UNCONDITIONAL love—or Real Love®—which means to care about another person without any thought for something in return. 

In Real Love, there is no disappointment or irritation. Very, very few people have received that kind of love—with no disappointment or anger—with any consistency. 

How do I know that?  

Remember in your own childhood how many times: 

  • your parents and others rolled their eyes at your mistakes.  
  • they criticized your performance, especially with a “tone.” 
  • they told you they were disappointed in you—with their words, their facial expression.  
  • you just needed to talk to someone, but there was no one there.  

On each of these occasions, you were not being unconditionally loved—whether aggressively or by simple neglect—and you FELT the message, “I don’t love you.” Really, whether you consciously remember each event or not. It was like being poked with a sharp stick. And your children feel that same pain.  

All of us—including our children—MUST be unconditionally loved and taught: 

  •  how to maintain our feelings of worth 
  • how to develop our creativity, and  
  • how to identify and be responsible for our feelings.  

When children don’t feel unconditionally loved, they try ANY behavior that will earn our approval or protect them from feeling disapproval.

They try to please us, to earn praise. When that wears off, they try whining, complaining, disappearing into screens, anger, fighting, and . . . drugs, which are very effective at easing or eliminating pain.

And once a child is on the path of drugs, it’s very difficult to step off.  

The usual solutions for drug abuse—mentioned earlier—don’t work well in the long term because they don’t address the underlying cause.  

The Real Solution for Drug Abuse

But we can learn how to find the Real Love® we need more than anything. You can learn how to give it to your child in a consistent and reliable way. You can learn what happens when your child is happy and free from pain.  

Watch your child’s addiction disappear naturally—along with improvements in school performance, chores, and relationships—without pushing, nagging, and controlling. 

Watch your child turn to you more for affection. Allow the tears to fall as you see your child feel loved and even become more loving to his siblings.

When children are not in pain, they become who they were meant to be. They become their true selves: curious, creative, cooperative, involved, and connected.

They become more responsible in ways you can’t imagine until you see it happen. How could you want more for your children than that?  

You don’t have to figure out all this on your own. It’s already been figured, thoroughly tested, and written. Go to RealLoveParents.com and begin with the free chapter of The Ridiculously Effective Parenting Training. 

The entire training teaches you how to help your child with their drug use, BUT it begins with teaching you how it all began and what YOU need to learn before you can help your child. The Training specifically teaches you about responding to drug addiction in Chapters Four and Eight. 

We all want a quick fix—who doesn't?—that involves a short list of things to do, but that never, ever works with significant problems. What the Training offers, works consistently, but only if you are committed to doing it. It involves learning on your part, and right there is where most parents quit.

Keep going and find the relief—even the joy—that you are looking for. 


Footnote 1- Few die when using drugs correctly. Source: ChatGPT 

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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