Which of the three awareness days happening on August 31st will I be celebrating?
a) Love Litigating Lawyers Day
b) Trail Mix Day
c) International Overdose Awareness Day
I know, this is a tough one, because I really do love trail mix. But if you have spent more than 5 minutes around here, you probably know the correct answer. Overdose is a cause near and dear to us around here, and we certainly don’t keep that a secret!
We have written about overdose a lot, so I am going to resist the urge to rehash it all and just share some links to the many comprehensive overdose articles that already exist on WYG. But in case you don’t click on any of those links, I can’t help but sharing one or two facts on why this is a big deal. It is a big deal to me because I have seen friends and family struggle with addiction and I have seen friends and family die from their substance use. It is a big deal to all of us, as a community and as a society, because addiction and overdose are everywhere and growing everyday. It doesn’t discriminate, it impacts celebrities and those experiencing homelessness, it impacts teens and parents and grandparents, it impacts people in cities and people in rural areas. There were more than 43,000 overdose deaths in the US in 2013. Deaths from heroin in the US rose from less than 2,000 in 2001 to over 8,000 in 2013. Prescription drug deaths rose from less than 10,000 in 2001 to well over 20,000 in 2013. From 2007 to 2013 the number of people who have used heroin doubled, bringing that figure to 681,000 people. 169,00 of those people tried heroin for the first time in 2013.
So, bottom line: Trail mix? Yummy. Addiction and overdose? Epic social crisis.
Every year we try to do something for Overdose Awareness Day. In 2013, my effort was a bit more personal and private (well, until I wrote a blog post about it). Check it out if you missed it:
In 2014 we were thrilled to partner with a local GRASP chapter to do a candlelight vigil here in the Baltimore area. No surprise, we wrote about that too:
So it is 2015 and Overdose Awareness Day is 4 days away. This year we want you to be part of our Overdose Awareness Day initiative. You may be here because you lost someone to a substance related cause. You may be here for a totally unrelated type of loss. But, knowing the statistics, chances are addiction has impacted you, a friend or a family member in some way. This year for Overdose Awareness Day we want to be part of shattering the stigma around addiction, no matter what your connection. So many of us have been touched by this vicious disease and social crisis, yet so many suffer in silence, feeling alone and isolated.
So, what are we asking you to do? Join us by sharing how addiction and/or overdose have impacted you. We want to create a post here at WYG filled with stories about the amazing people who have been impacted by or lost their lives to substances, as a memorial tribute and as a reminder of the devastating impact of addiction. To do that we need you to share your story! You can share your story in a comment here, or you can make your story go even further in shattering the stigma by sharing your story on your facebook, instagram, google+ or whatever other social media platform you love. If you share your story on social media and would like it compiled in our post of stories, make sure to tag us or also share here in a comment! Not sure where we are on social? You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.
When you share your story on social media, you can include either a photo of your loved one, or use the image we have created below. And, you can encourage others to join us in sharing their stories! When we all share these stories we begin to realize we are not alone, that addiction touches more people than we ever imagined, and that together sharing these stories can help us in our grief, help us to support one another, and help to change the stigma around addiction.
And now, if you are feeling super inspired to do more for International Overdose Day, look for an event in your community. You can find a list of events here. Looking to start an event? Time is tight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Start small, even it is just getting some family and friends together.
Last but not least, share with others that Monday is Overdose Awareness Day! Below are some social medic cover photos and other images you can use to promote the day!
Leave a comment below to share the impact of overdose loss or addiction on you. If you know of an Overdose Awareness event on Monday, please also share that information in a comment. Remember, we are all stronger together!