Overdose Awareness — and How We Might Finally Break the Cycles of Shame, Silence, and Secrecy About Addiction
Is your loved one struggling with — or hiding — an addiction? You’re not alone. Read on with an open heart and an open mind. And remind your loved one they aren’t alone, either.
Today, August 31, 2022, is International Overdose Awareness Day, the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose. It’s a day to remember those we’ve lost to overdose, to acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind, and to renew our commitment to end overdose and related harms.
As a memoir coach, I regularly work with individuals who’ve journeyed through addiction and/or faced situations involving overdoses — as well as the traumas that accompany both. I work with many who are currently in active recovery, as well as those who support, struggle with, or have lost loved ones to addiction. I myself am a child of an alcoholic, and I’ve seen firsthand how addiction can steal loved ones from us, turning them into people we (and they) no longer recognize — often pitting families and friends against one another.
While I *could* throw a bunch of statistics at you about the horrifying rise in overdose deaths since the pandemic, you’re free to scroll down and dig into all the numbers (and many resources) later. If you remember any figures from this newsletter, keep in mind that the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s provisional 2021 numbers suggest that someone dies of a drug overdose in America every five minutes. That means about 2–3 people will die by the time you finish reading this piece.
For now, I want to focus on the human experience and the critical need for everyone to speak openly about addiction.
Is It Addiction?
One of the most common things I hear from clients about addiction in their households is that, when a loved one is suspected of battling addiction (or is actively addicted), clients describe never having felt so alone, confused, angry, or afraid. I often hear mention of paralysis, frustration, resentment, worry, exhaustion, regret, and utter overwhelm.