Monday is International Overdose Awareness Day.
It’s not just a topic for those with addicts in their lives. It is an issue that should concern us all.
Across Canada, the numbers alone are staggering. In the West, B.C. had its single deadliest month of fatal overdoses in June, at 177 deaths. A total of 526 people died in a three-month period in that province over the summer. Daughters. Wives. Sons. Fathers.
Countries, states, provinces and cities around the globe are seeing this second, vicious health crisis unfold. To the east, the City of Toronto recorded 16 suspected overdose deaths in nine days alone in July. To the south, American agencies are reporting an 18 percent hike in fatalities over last year, which already was deemed to be at crisis levels. More sons. More daughters. Gone forever.
The onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 meant the shutdown of in-person mutual aid meetings like Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous – normally attended by people trying to maintain their recoveries. Substance users are no different than non-users. They experience the tension of an unsafe world. They, too, have been experiencing anxiety at levels they never have before. As people masked up and stayed home, normal supplies of illicit drugs were cut off while even riskier, less trustworthy points of purchase were being accessed.
The resulting carnage has been devastating, a second major health crisis in our country. By June, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service was reporting an over 220 percent hike in opioid-related calls in 2020 from 2019. The Manitoba Fire Paramedic Service reports that the number of Naloxone patients serviced in July grew from 66 in 2019 to 231 this year.
Ending The Stigma
At Aurora Recovery Centre, we have always known people who need help due to substance use and mental health disorders come from all walks of life. By the nature of our private facility, we know most whom we treat come from decent homes with children, parents, good jobs. No reason to be afflicted, other than it is the nature of the illness of substance use disorders. Like COVID-19, they don’t care what kind of home you are from. If you are predisposed to addiction, you can fall into the trap as easily as anyone. Addiction takes athletes, politicians, scholars and volunteers. It is not a crime. Addiction and drug overdose is a health issue.
Lives are being lost. Someone’s daughter. Someone’s dad. Monday, August 31, 2020 is International Overdose Awareness Day. International Overdose Awareness Manitoba’s Purple Ribbon Campaign brings us to the end of a month that reminds us all to show compassion.
Will you be taking a brief time out with us on Monday to remember that all Canadians need love and support? That addiction isn’t a crime, it is a health issue?