A Time To Remember, A Time To Act

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. It is a time to remember the loved ones that we have lost. But, it is also a time to act. We are living through an epidemic that is taking so many loved ones from us. People are busy stigmatizing addiction instead of trying to help.

We must do more and rethink how we are addressing drug addiction and abuse. We know that overprescribing of opioids was a key indicator of this epidemic that we are in. We also know how addictive substances affects the brain and change a person to do things that they would not do to get more drugs. But, what are we really doing to help people?

2015 was the worst year for drug overdose deaths in US history. Then 2016 came along.

In 2015, we lost Amber and that was said to be the worst year for overdose deaths. But, 2016 is now surpassing 2015 and what are we doing different to help people?

More Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War — the result of the US’s opioid epidemic. Read More.

I believe that we all can take part and help. One of the things I would love to see is the end to the stigma of addiction and mental illness. Sunflower Effect was created for both addiction and mental illness because of the link between the two at least in the case of Amber. Amber was bi-polar, there is a strong connection between people with mental illness also becoming addicted. It is NOT always the case, but it there are a large amount of people who are addicted who are also suffering from mental illness.

In fact, multiple studies show that those with mental illness are roughly twice as likely to develop a substance abuse problem. The key in understanding the triggers – and potential treatment – is weeding the fact from the myth. Read More.

How can something as simple as ending the stigma help? I believe from talking to many people who substance use disorder and knowing family and friends both in recovery and active addiction that this is one of the reasons people don’t get help. The stigma also makes it harder for family members to get help. Addiction is a family disease, I know this all to well. A person who is suffering from addiction is loved by people, their loved ones are struggling to get them help and get help for themselves as they cope with the nightmare of addiction.

Please look for one of the many events that will be happening on August 31st to remember the loved ones that have lost their battle.

I am so grateful that my friends at John F. Slater Funeral Home are sponsoring an event this year in Brentwood at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. I will be there remembering Amber and so many others that we have lost. Please join me.

The prescription-drug addiction crisis has been more than two decades in the making. Now, all levels of government are scrambling to stop a public health disaster that Pennsylvania’s top drug official described Tuesday as the worst since the 1918-19 flu. Read More.

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