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International Overdose Awareness Day

 

... is a day to acknowledge individual loss and family grief for people who have suffered overdose.

August 31                                                                                                                                      SJ Finn reading a poem here for remembrance 2020         

                                                                                                                                                       SJ Finn talking here to the national Salvos AOD program on IOAD

                                                                                                                                                       For footage of Sally J Finn discussing IOAD go here         

                                                                                                                                                       2009 film made by SJ Finn and Adrian Price for IOAD 

                                                                                                                                                       2009 film made by SJ Finn and Adrean Price for IOAD

At its heart, Overdose Awareness Day is a day that commemorates the death of a loved-one.

WLPOT Finn 4 

For friends and family members, life partners and work colleagues, the shock and sadness of losing someone to overdose is heart wrenching. Equal to the pain felt whenever a loved-one passes away, it is grief that, in today's world, is complicated by the stigma of drug use, by the isolation and shame that stigma generates.

 

Overdose Awareness Day also acknowledges those people living with permanent injuries as a direct result of overdose. These people are often unseen in our community and after suffering the ramifications of a non-fatal overdose are also open to judgement.

 

Intrinsic to Overdose Awareness Day is the opportunity for the community to acknowledge that drugs and the possibility that they can cause overdose are a part of all our lives. The other way to think about this is that death and injury to people who suffer overdose is felt across every socio-economic and cultural span of the world.

 

Fundermental to lowering the high toll and painful loss from overdose, we must create discussion and education, not just in the cities but in the rural areas. We must break down the barriers of fear and prejudice around drug use and do away with the practice of engaging law enforcement to deal with a social and health conundrum. Only then will we make the necessary changes that irradicates the division of drugs into those that are legal and those that are not, bringing all drugs under the umbrella of regulation. As these parameters shift, so will many deaths and permanent injuries be prevented. Liberated by the diminishment of the legal focus on drug use, we will be truly able to talk openly about the properties of drugs in a nuanced and truthful manner. Liberation means evidence-based illumination. 

 

Already we know so much that will help to bring about change. From the provision of naloxone to the opening of supervised injecting facilities, from expanding the amount of treatment services and keeping people free of becoming criminalised, the options to move forward are many and varied. And, it is through the stories of those who are effected - stories told by partners and parents and children and friends - that our greatest source of guidance.

 

This is why on August 31, communities all over the world, gather together to raise our voices as one to shine a light on overdose and to shout out that these are, by and large, preventable deaths. And as we reach out, as we extend our hand, we cast a protective net over all of us: all our children and parents and friends and partners. Seeding such an understanding is not only key to arresting this harm, but to changing our response to those who use drugs. If we are to accomplish a turnaround in the high rates of overdose, we must first accept that the judgement we might place on someone's choice to partake in the consumption of drugs is often based around assumptions we have no evidence for and leads to futher marginalisation and persecution of all.

 

Overdose Day, therefore, will not stray from its purpose as a day to remember loved-ones without fear of judgement. It is a day that aims to cast off the burden of a secret and to relinquish guilt. It is a day to celebrate the life of the person lost and acknowledge the joy they gave. It is a day that recognises that no matter how the path of life was followed, a person should not be diminished by judgements we might make over aspects of that person's life. And so, we release a symbol, the silver badge, into the community to signify that overdose is a cause of death and injury that for many means the loss of someone who can never be replaced.

Sally J Finn

Founder of International Overdose Awareness Day