Over­dose day for learn­ing, griev­ing

Fremantle Gazette - - NEWS - Jes­sica Nico

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.

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