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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Healing Deep Scars With International Overdose Awareness Day

Please read this post by a father who posted it as a remembrance on International Overdose Awareness's website.

"My son Michael died on August 19, 2014 of an overdose. As I write this I am still in tears about it. I keep going because (thank God) I still have another son to care for named Brian. And I work full time (as a teacher), and I have a supportive wife (Annette) and good extended family. There are days my system is still in shock. There are times I have been terrified that I might lose my other son because he has some serious health issues. So I often have to fight what some might call panic attacks. I never had these before in my life!

"I went into my son’s room on that fateful day to wake him for work. He was dead many hours by that time we found out. He had struggled with his demons for many years. It is more than sad for me as his father; he was my pride and joy as he was tall, handsome and smart. He was a scholar athlete and just a tremendous joy to be around. I miss the witty banter we had all the time around the house! Miss that so much! Miss it every damn day now!

"We almost lost him about 7 years ago. He nearly had an OD back then but my son Brian called 911 and he was saved. I told him after that crisis (almost every day) the following: 'Mike you can NEVER take anything else for the rest of your life. You might die.' The doctors had told us back when we first thought we nearly lost him that one big reason he survived was that he was strong and young! Oh God how many more of these young people have to die before the USA acknowledges the drug crisis in this country?

"I find solace in bereavement group talk (TC) and private therapy as well as the comfort of my family and friends. My son Brian is a huge reason I go on with my every day life now.

"What do people do who lose an only child?

"My cousin also lost his son to drugs and he was the same age – 28. I am convinced that people in their late twenties are in a danger zone now.
"My son was doing well in his job and was promoted quickly to the head of a group home! He had a B.S. degree in Psychology and had just completed his M.A. degree also!

"He was super smart. And so funny too! He was in a Ph.D. program for Psychology. He was set to move onto campus.

"But he overdosed one week before his move to campus. I need to stop now. Too hard still."


I cannot fathom the pain, the despair, and the permanent scars left in the wake of overdose deaths. I am at a loss for words to express my sorrow when I see family after family devastated by the premature overdose death of a loved one. Although we live in the greatest democracy in the world, we Americans are enduring drug-death tragedies that threaten our future and our freedoms.

I often wish I could reach out and offer condolences that might insure the end of a horrible national epidemic is near; however, all signs show the populace is slow to gain awareness of constructive methods to alleviate the enormous death toll.

International Overdose Awareness Day commemorates those who have passed away or suffered permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. The observance also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends while aiming to provide an opportunity for them to mourn without feeling guilt or shame.

International Overdose Awareness Day takes place each year on August 31st. This day is held on a global scale. The ultimate goal is to raise worldwide awareness about overdose, which causes 200,000 deaths and countless permanent injuries per year.

In Ohio, unintentional drug overdose continues to be the leading cause of injury-related death, ahead of motor vehicle traffic crashes, suicide and falls.

From 2000 to 2012, Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug poisonings increased 366 percent. Each day, nearly five Ohioans die from drug-related overdose.

The Ohio Department of Health acknowledges and supports International Overdose Awareness Day

(Ohio Department of Health. "Drug Overdose in Ohio." February 10, 2014)

The silver badge is the universal symbol of awareness of overdose and its effects. Wearing silver on International Overdose Awareness Day can signify the loss of someone cherished or show support to those bearing a burden of grief. Wearing silver can signify the loss of someone close to you or demonstrate support to those who have lost someone.

Wearing silver is meant to send a message and that message is that the every human being is of infinite value. And this infinite value removes prejudice and stigma towards those who use drugs. Wearing silver symbolizes the celebration of life.

International Overdose Awareness Day History:

International Overdose Awareness Day had its origin in Australia, in 2001. Actually, it was started by Salvation Army. Thanks to its meaningful purpose and strong message, this day is now a global event with the annual participation of many countries across the globe. The whole world is now working together to acknowledge the pain felt by people who lost their loved ones to drug overdose and to make people aware that no one should suffer from this preventable tragedy.

International Overdose Awareness Day themes include prevention and remembrance. Here are some goals of activities planned that day:
  • To include the greatest number of people in Overdose Awareness Day events and encourage non-denominational involvement
  • To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdoses
  • To send a strong message to current and former drug users that they are valued
  • To provide basic information about support services in local communities
  • To start a discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice
  • To remind us all the risks of overdose
This year August 31st falls on Monday. The registered observances onsite presently list only one commemoration in Ohio. Here it is:

International Overdose Awareness Day Memorial
Location: First Alliance Church
291 W Cook Rd
Mansfield Ohio 44907

 Type of Event: Candle Lighting
Time: 7 PM
Phone: 419-512-8158

For those interested in economic relief, it is a fact that drug overdoses are associated with high direct and indirect costs. Unintentional fatal drug overdoses cost Ohioans $2.0 billion in 2012 in medical and work loss costs; while non-fatal, hospital-admitted drug poisonings cost an additional $39.1 million. The total cost equaled an average of $5.4 million each day in medical and work loss costs in Ohio.

Reach Out Scioto

Let's encourage Scioto health officials, hospital administrations, and others from treatment centers, counseling facilities, schools, and churches to come together and organize a meaningful observance of International Overdose Awareness Day on Monday, August 31, 2015.

Let's invite everyone to a commemoration that would uplift the goals of awareness. I think healing and obtaining more good information about a devastating problem go hand-in-hand to stimulating an increase in much-needed, positive actions.

In the recent past, events to mark the day included a “die-in” in Los Angeles; a capitol march in Sacramento; a survivors’ photography show in Denver; educational sessions in Philadelphia, Hartford, and Durham, NC; a Bronx awards ceremony for policymakers who supported New York’s Good Samaritan 911 law; and dozens of  candlelight vigils across the nation commemorating the lives of people lost to the disease.

On August 31, local radio stations in many observance communities were asked to play music by the many artists who have died from overdoses.
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