International Overdose Awareness Day: Honoring Lives, Inspiring Change

Wednesday, August 2, 2023 @ 12:47 PM

August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day each year. In recent years, the world has been coping with a devastating opioid epidemic that has claimed countless lives and left communities in disarray. This day serves as a poignant reminder of the lives lost and an opportunity to raise awareness about the overdose crises. This day is not only a time to remember those who have passed, but also to support those survivors affected.

After a traumatic event such as overdose, it can be extremely difficult to grieve your loved one. Some reactions that may follow your grief are guilt, anger, shame, and isolation. There are many emotions that occur when someone dies, but when the death is from an overdose, the most difficult ones rise to the surface.

Due largely to the opioid and fentanyl epidemic, Ohio has one of the highest per capita death overdose rate. On July 18th, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner issued a public health alert due to nine overdose deaths within a 24-hour period.

We’ve learned from our Cleveland Overdose Loss Support Group participants that there are common, yet unique, challenges faced by those grieving an overdose loss. These groups offer a safe place, and sense of belonging to individuals and families who may feel isolated or stigmatized due to addiction. Being surrounded by others who have faced similar struggles can provide a comforting and non-judgmental space to share stories, emotions, and challenges.

For anyone that has lost a loved one due to overdose, knowing that others have face similar battles can provide a sense of relief and hope. Through shared stories and guidance from our facilitators, the support group participants can find peace and learn healthy ways to navigate their emotions.

Last year, Cornerstone of Hope began a Mid-Ohio Traumatic Loss Response Team program in Central Ohio. This program provides the survivors of overdose loss with emotional support, crisis intervention and links these survivors to local resources or faith communities.

Our response team volunteers are trained in crisis intervention and peer companioning. They are all reliable, gentle, and compassionate individuals that have also been through their own healing journey and are ready to provide care to others.

It is important to reach out to your friends or family that may be affected by this kind of tragic loss. Grief can be very isolating. Those that have lost their loved ones often want others to check in on them, sit with them, listen and embrace their pain. Overdose Awareness Day is a solemn yet powerful reminder of the devastating impact of addiction and the urgent need for action. By sharing personal stories and advocating for each other, we can drive meaningful change and turn our pain into purpose.

by Juliana Myers