Today, August 31, 2021, is International Overdose Awareness Day. The underlying theme of this day is to break through the stigma of drug addiction and death by drug overdose. This stigma breeds shame, humiliation, and loneliness. It thwarts those who are deep into the disease from seeking help. It isolates those who are left behind from overdose from finding solace. This is why this website was created. Mary’s story epitomized this stigma.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a day to allow those who have experienced the loss of a loved one from overdose an opportunity to publicly mourn. It is a day to bring awareness, to bring people together to dialogue about the risk of overdose, how to access resources, and how to prevent addiction and overdose. It was initiated in 2001 in Australia by a social worker, Sally J Finn who worked at The Salvation Army in St. Kilda, Melbourne. She addressed the Australian Salvation Army in a kickoff to this day by telling the story of how this day came about.
Harbor’s Heroin Opiate Initiative in collaboration with the Toledo Lucas County Public Library held a book group discussion last month with Author Sam Quinones of his book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. Sam Quinones writes in his book that heroin “thrives in isolation.” The author addressed this in his discussion of the book and referenced the importance of community and human connectedness. We grow and develop through social, physical and emotional contact which are essential aspects of being human. Social emotional supports are vital in the lives of those in recovery. The isolation brought about by the attempt to curtail the spread of COVID 19, has been challenging to all of us and especially those battling Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and those in recovery. I referred to this isolation brought about by the pandemic in a previous post and have been reflecting since that time. This pandemic is uncharted territory. Are we going to face another stay-at-home order? What about the variant strains we are hearing about? These uncertainties and loneliness can compound into some very uncomfortable, stressful feelings. We all need ways to try to connect with loved ones and our support networks during this time. It can be helpful to reach out to help lines that are available throughout the country and in your local communities. Locally, in Lucas County, an Emotional Support Line (419 442 0580) was created as a resource to assist people with their mental health during isolation. For additional information about how to deal with the stress of the pandemic, review this SAMSHA publication.