NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Many of us know someone who’s struggled with substance abuse, and numbers show millions of Americans are now in the middle of this crisis, when opioid abuse is especially deadly.

More than 81,000 people died of an overdose in the U.S. from May of 2019 to May of last year, according to the CDC.

That number increased as the pandemic set in.

"Of course we would expect substance use to be on the rise, because if people are at home and they are feeling distressed, with difficult thoughts and emotions and very little ways to distract or to cope with it,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Christina Huang.

Synthetic opioids — a main driver behind the increase — now having a jump in related deaths at almost 40 percent.

"You're more likely to die of an overdose in United States than you are to die of a motor vehicle crash. I mean, that's concerning,” said emergency medicine physician Dr. Nathan Charlton.

To turn the deadly trend around, the Red Cross is now offering a virtual course on the signs of an opioid overdose — like decreased breathing and blue lips or fingertips — as well as how to help treat one.

"Whether it's at home or out in the community, the chances that you run into somebody with this problem and a potential overdose are actually pretty high,” Dr. Charlton said.

Critical training that could save a life.

The red cross online course takes about 45 minutes and provides critical training that could save a life.

Click here to learn more about the Red Cross' online course. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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