Until 2015 I was unaware of International Overdose Awareness day, which is today August 31.
“International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose”.
My nephew died of an overdose of heroine mixed with fentanyl and other chemicals in October of 2015, less than two months before his 21st birthday. During the weekend of my nephews overdose there were a record breaking 74 overdoses in the area that were reported. Authorities said that heroin laced with fentanyl was the reason. We believe that my nephew’s overdose was an accident. Fentanyl, which is a drug that is used as an anesthesia was found in his system along with heroin.
My nephew lived in an Illinois suburb about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago. The heroin epidemic, and it is an epidemic, has hit suburbs and small towns from coast to coast. Prior to my nephews death I did not know that there is a Heroin epidemic and it often starts with addiction to prescription opioid pain killers. There is an antidote for opioid poisoning called Narcan.
I used to think of Heroin as a drug that people used in the 1970’s and had no idea that it has made a huge comeback. We tend to punish heroin addicts rather than treating them like we would treat any other person with an illness.
Never did I ever imagine that a family member would die of a heroin overdose. I can not even describe the grief that he left behind. A family has been forever changed and his parents will grieve for him for the rest of their lives. We will always wonder about what might have been and if we could have somehow saved him. #OverdoseAware2017
Take a few moments today to learn more about heroin overdoses in your community. There were 402 opioid related deaths in Minnesota last year and that number will be higher in 2017.