Overdose day for learning, grieving
ADDICTION and overdose are often thought of in terms of statistics, but for the thousands who have lost a loved one to drugs, it’s something much deeper and more painful.
International Overdose Awareness Day, an event that began in Melbourne in 2001 and has been held every August 31 since, gives grieving friends and family around the world an opportunity to remember those who have been lost as well as to educate and raise awareness about the dangers of drug use.
St Patrick’s Community Support Centre’s Crossroads drug and alcohol outreach team see first hand the effect overdose can have both on the individual and their loved ones and they joined the wider St Pat’s and Fremantle community in holding an International Overdose Awareness Day remembrance last Thursday.
Crossroads senior assertive outreach worker Amanda Crow said as well as remembering those who have been lost, her team used the event to explain the symptoms of an overdose, talk about harm reduction when taking drugs and just be an ear to listen if anyone wanted to talk about their experiences.
“Everyday as outreach workers we meet people whose lives have been affected by ■ ■ ■ ■
overdose,” she said.
“Whether it’s a friend or a family member, many of our clients have had really sad experiences around the issue.
“It is very important to acknowledge and to remember that these lives lost are someone’s mother, someone’s brother, father sister or best friendthe cause of death should not be relevant when we are helping someone through their grief.”
She said it was unfortunate that there was a lot of stigma surrounding drug-related death and that more needed to be done to remove this to allow those left behind to grieve properly.
“Families often experience judgement and guilt around the loss of a loved one caused by a fatal overdose,” she said.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about overdose is that it only applies to street-based heroin users, which is not correct-there has been a significant increase in the use of pharmaceutical drugs particularly pain killers such as oxycontin and morphine.
“There are many services in the community that provide support to those who are experiencing difficulties with their drug use and for the families impacted by a loved one’s drug use. You don’t have to go through this alone.”
Visit website www.overdoseday.com for more information.