Overdose Awareness Day 2015

Memorials and Remembrance / Memorials and Remembrance : Litsa Williams

Pop quiz:

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:

FI - overdose awareness day

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:

FI overdose awareness day 2014

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.

a man holding a burning sparkler in the dark

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!




And just in case you aren’t inspired to spread the word about Overdose Awareness Day, you can just look forward to this on Monday!

Grieving an overdose death?  Make sure you check out Part I and Part II of our post on the grief of an overdose death.  And don’t miss our podcast on substance loss here.

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!  

Let’s be grief friends.

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7 Comments on "Overdose Awareness Day 2015"

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  1. Amy Starkey  August 31, 2018 at 3:42 pm Reply

    I lost my son Jacob (Jake) Starkey May 7, 2017 to a heroin/ Cocaine OD In FL. I’m sure they messed up the toxicology because all signs pointed to Fentanyl and others who knew him who also used in the past clearly stated there was tainted heroin on the streets at that time. He had been well for 3 years and showed no signs of a relapse to those with him daily. So a one-dose mistake. And instant death. I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around it. He was 34 years old. Had gone from homeless to having an apartment, Ford 350 lifted truck. A great paying job. A cute, young girlfriend ( who I am finding out may have been his demise). He was happy and on top of the world according to family who lived close to him and saw him daily. I lived on the opposite coast in CA and was coming to visit in 2 weeks. We facetimed a few days before he died and he looked happy and healthy and was excited to see me. He was my only son and we loved each other deeply despite the horrible things that happened during his “bad” years. I will miss him until we meet again. This madness needs to be stopped by whatever means. But we must stop the stigma first and foremost. I lived it as well as he did. I heard the whispers and saw the looks directed at me and him. Find the solution. Save lives.

  2. Felicity Diamond  February 24, 2016 at 9:58 am Reply

    Heroin overdose deaths are a national epidemic. All of the heroin in the U.S. is coming from Mexico. Until we seal our borders & enforce our laws, the epidemic will continue to rage & more young lives will be lost. It is a tragedy that our nation will send the National Guard to Africa to fight the Ebola virus and send hundreds of millions to other nations to fight the Zika virus, while 46,000 die every year in our country from overdose!!!! If that many lives were lost due to gunshot wounds, you wouldn’t be able to find a bullet in all of the North America. I heard that the death of 1 persona is a tragedy; the death of thousands is a statistic. Our nation & the politicians need to wake up. I lost my beautiful daughter to an overdose 3 years ago.

    • Litsa  February 24, 2016 at 8:11 pm Reply

      Hi Felicity, unfortunately over 33,000 deaths in the US are gun related deaths, so not as high as overdose but still tragically high. There is a long way to go in our efforts on substance abuse and gun violence, but it has been refreshing to see a dialogue FINALLY growing around the opiate epidemic. As many know, these substance issues are not new. It is a tragedy in itself that it has taken the epidemic spilling into upper-middle class America in order to spark a dialogue and start a political conversation about solutions, but no matter the reason I am glad to see this conversation finally growing. It is our hope that with every statistic people can remember that each individual who died was someone’s child, someone’s friend, and they leave behind people who love and remember them. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter and hope you find some support on our website.

  3. LS  September 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm Reply

    My beloved 34 year old fiance, my one and only soulmate, died of a heroin + Xanax overdose 10 months ago. I was 100% positive that he would never relapse (from his drug use in his early 20’s – he started using drugs at college) on drugs, and I was 100% wrong, unfortunately. He relapsed on drugs, and he died four months later. I have never done drugs in my life, I have never smoked cigarettes, and I never drink alcohol. It is still unfathomable to me (and all my friends and family) that I (of all people because of my extremely healthy lifestyle) lost my fiance to a drug overdose. It’s a nightmare. I truly do not think that I will get through this grief. I regret that I could not save him.

  4. Vicki  September 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm Reply

    It may seem strange to most people, but I grieve overdose deaths that I couldn’t save as a paramedic. We’re supposed to have up-to-the-minute medical equipment and be able to save most lives but naloxone has the most narrow ‘therapeutic dose’ window ever, and I think most of the people I treat who overdose on narcotics would do well to learn it. At least some of them act as if we’re always going to save them. We see them on a regular basis.
    It’s different from personal grief but I still go through a lament when I can’t save a patient.

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