International Overdose Awareness Day, established in Australia in 2001, is coming up on August 31st. Are you aware of this annual commemoration? It originated as a local event, conceived by Sally J. Finn and Peter Streker as a day in which members of their community could wear ribbons to commemorate a loved one who had succumbed to an overdose, or to offer condolences to those who had suffered the loss of a loved one from an overdose. This idea quickly spread, and today International Overdose Awareness Day is observed in the U.K. and U.S. as well as in Australia and New Zealand, with community organizations, government and non-government organizations, hospitals, health centers, and other groups holding events to raise awareness and to remember those who have been lost.
Do you know someone whose life has been impacted by an overdose? Have you, personally, been affected? If so, you’re not alone. There’s an epidemic of drug addiction ravaging the world today, and families across the globe have suffered the devastation of watching a loved one slide into the grips of addiction.
In the United States alone, there were an estimated 59,000 drug-related deaths in 2016, which is a jump of almost 20% over the previous year. This is devastating to families, who are often helpless to intervene successfully, and who have to face the shattering reality of losing that loved one to their addiction.
Whether the person lost was a child, sibling, spouse, or friend, it’s hard for survivors to cope with their feelings of guilt. Most feel responsible in some way for the death, and feel that they failed as a parent, sibling, spouse, or friend. Because of all these negative emotions, and because of societal stigmas regarding addiction, it can be difficult for people to come forward and share their stories. Those who are brave enough to (come forward and) share the story of losing their loved one, first to the addictive allure of the drugs, and then to death, can hopefully use their grief and loss to help prevent further senseless tragedy from affecting others. Telling these stories helps chip away at the stigma, and provides support to others who are grieving.
What can you do to lend a hand on International Overdose Awareness Day?
- Wear silver, to show support. You might also consider purchasing a bracelet or badge from overdoseday.com, to help raise money for the cause.
- Bring #OverdoseAware2017 to social media. Tweet about it, post on Facebook, go to Instagram or Snapchat, wherever you’re most comfortable, and talk about overdose awareness.
- Attend an event. Visit overdoseday.com to find events near you.
- Host an event or a Twitter chat. If you are part of a community organization or non-profit, you can use your influence to reach others in the community. To learn how, visit overdoseday.com, where they offer tips and resources to assist in your planning.
Spreading overdose awareness and removing the stigma from addiction is necessary if we as a society are going to get to the root of the problem, and find real solutions. It’s important for those who have lived through the trauma of a drug overdose to share their stories, to help others who are trying to learn how to cope with the same pain. This is why International Overdose Awareness Day is so important.
For those who have been touched by the addiction epidemic, though, the struggle to find help and healing can be very personal. If you’re dealing with this kind of grief, Wages and Sons wants to help. We offer grief support services that include grief counseling, support groups, special events, and helpful literature. If you’re looking for a speaker for an event, we can also provide that, as our staff is well-versed in a variety of grief-related topics. Sadly, we have firsthand experience in helping families cope with the pain of an overdose, and can use that knowledge to help educate and inform. Contact us today, to see how our compassionate and caring staff can help you find a path to healing, find your voice, and perhaps find a way to use a terrible tragedy for good, creating meaning out of loss.