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How are things outside of your window in regard to drug overdoses? Have you seen the latest in your local news or local social media groups? In the past year, I have had two family members pass away from fentanyl overdose. Two. Doesn't seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things. However, two is too much. One is one too many. And this is just in my family. How about your family and your community?
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH, 2021), the toll of drug overdoses on Americans in 2020 was devastating, with over 93,000 lives lost. This grim statistic represents the most substantial annual surge in overdose fatalities ever documented. The escalation in these tragic incidents can be attributed predominantly to the surge in overdoses related to synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. There has also been a significant surge in overdose fatalities linked to psychostimulants, specifically methamphetamine. Alarmingly, a substantial number of these fatalities have occurred concurrently with the usage of opioids. I'm not here to argue the morality of the issue or the, "Well they should have known better," of the situation. We are far beyond that. These statistics are only going to get worse, and the ages of persons affected will steadily get younger as more and more youth experiment with alcohol and other drugs.
Released October 13, 2021, the Hulu drama series "Dopesick" sought to tackle this very issue, delving into the heart of addiction, healthcare, and the struggle for redemption. The show traced the root of the opioid crisis here in American back to the Sackler family's pharmaceutical industry's aggressive marketing of pain medications and the downplay and cover up of data indicating that the drug OxyContin was highly addictive. "Dopesick" meticulously unraveled the multifaceted facets of the crisis, encompassing not only the lives of those struggling with addiction but also the healthcare professionals, law enforcement, and families impacted by the epidemic.
In 2023, Netflix tackled the same with their series "Painkiller" calling this crisis out for exactly what it was ambition and greed that led to America's opioid crisis. "Painkiller" provides a comprehensive view of a crisis that has spanned across demographic lines and communities. It isn't an affluent versus poor thing. "Painkiller" depicts the interconnectedness of the crisis, unveiling the role of pharmaceutical companies, over-prescription, and inadequate oversight. The show further challenges viewers to confront the uncomfortable truths and compels them to question the systems that perpetuate the crisis. And yes, the systems do perpetuate the crisis and have been doing so since the crack epidemic that disproportionately affected blacks in the 1980s.
Shows like "Dopesick" and "Painkiller" are television's mirror reflecting some of the most challenging issues plaguing our society. It's more than just interesting entertainment. The shows and those to come (and yes more will come) urge us to take a critical look at the factors that have led to the opioid epidemic and to demand accountability from those responsible regardless of the depths of their wallets or their station in government. These shows remind us that complacency is not an option when lives are at stake. Regardless of our personal convictions and moral stances on drugs, if our local news is any indication of what is truly going on out there with more and more overdoses on drugs being reported daily, who do you think this drug crisis will affect next?
Now that we are here, what can we do?
Observed worldwide every year on August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day has a crucial mission: to enhance understanding of drug overdose, honor the memory of individuals who have succumbed to overdoses, and extend compassion and assistance to their families and loved ones. It also seeks to reduce the stigma associated with substance use and overdose."
Overdose Awareness Day is an opportunity for individuals, communities, and organizations to come together to promote awareness, advocate for policy changes, and provide support to those affected by overdose. Events on this day might include memorial services, educational workshops, candlelight vigils, and community discussions aimed at promoting understanding, compassion, and action. The IOAD 2023 theme “Recognizing those people who go unseen,” encourages us to reflect on the impact of overdose, remember those who have been lost, and work toward preventing future tragedies.
This year, I plan to support in four ways. First, articles such as this one to shed awareness on the issue. Second, I plan to attend a local International Overdose Awareness Day 2023 Conference event in my area being held at Troy University (Dothan campus-Sony Hall). Topics to be covered will include:
How to Recognize an Overdose
How to Administer Naloxone
Real Life Journey of Addiction and Ultimate Triumph
Recent Trends in Drug Arrests
Law Enforcement Efforts in Prevention
Third, I will share with you some resources that fit this topic well. Special thanks to Makayla Jones, Recovery Advocate with The Summit Wellness Group for introducing these next four resources to me which I now get to share with you.
An excellent guide full of resources for Black LGBTQ+ people. Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Prevail Recovery Center extends its services to individuals grappling with substance abuse within the South Florida locale and beyond. They hold the belief that every person merits the utmost respect, acknowledging addiction as a chronic disease. As such, they state that they customize their treatments to cater to the distinct needs of each individual.
Abundant resources for Asian Americans in the LGBTQ+ community. Centric Behavioral Health offers evidence-based treatment for substance abuse, dual-diagnosis and mental health conditions in boutique environments. They offer programs such as detoxification, residential inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, outpatient treatment, and supportive housing.
Written and curated by Black women, the Summit Wellness Group provides a guide that features over 60 resources for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color). Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Summit Wellness Group have a comprehensive range of care options including: medical detox, sober living, a partial hospitalization program, and an intensive outpatient program.
A guide to help Black women rise and thrive in 2023. The care team at Southeast Detox works diligently to avoid a one-size fits all approach to treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Their programs provide a harmonious blend of intensive individual and group counseling as well as access to a range of holistic addiction therapies, all carefully designed to facilitate healing for the mind, body, and spirit.
Special thank you to Zara Dumayas for introducing this resource to me to round out our list today. The overall goal of DetoxRehabs is to provide communities with trusted resources, relevant information, and referral services for both addicted individuals and their families. Their directory hosts informational pages about treatment facilities and rehabilitation programs and services. Here is a resource she requested I share with you all https://www.detoxrehabs.net/blog/does-being-positive-help-recovery/. I hope it proves helpful if not to you, then maybe to someone in your local community!
The overdose crisis is a significant public health concern in many parts of the world, driven primarily by the misuse and abuse of opioids, such as prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin. Overdose Awareness Day encourages education, prevention, and harm reduction efforts to address this issue. It also reminds us that though we would like to think that we are all safe and protected in our own little bubbles, the truth is that every day and, in every way, drug addiction and overdose affects all of us.
In case you thought I had forgotten, now for the fourth thing I will do this year in support of International Overdose Awareness Day. Fourth, I will call you to action. Please heart this blog so it will be boosted in the algorithms and SEO machines. Please leave a comment with any resources for drug and alcohol recovery and support in your local area. Please share this blog to your personal pages and networks. And as always, please remember. Wherever you are on this wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Until next time. Happy reading.
"The misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never happen." ~James Russell Lowell
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