Letter: August 31st is Overdose Awareness Day by Amy Gillespie

in Letter to the Editor

Dear Community Members,

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August 31st is Overdose Awareness Day. It is a day to reflect on the 184 lives lost every day in the United States to drug overdoses. It is a day to remember loved ones who have tragically died from an overdose.

May they be remembered for who they were and what they did rather than how they left us. It is also a day to share encouragement with those in recovery who are fighting for their lives.

We see you doing the work. We see you staying strong. Keep it up!

It is a day to reach out to someone struggling with addiction and to tell them that there is hope and help. We have community resources available to get you treatment.

And to me, it is also a day to SHATTER the STIGMA attached to substance use disorder.

Addiction doesn’t pick and choose who gets addicted. People don’t just choose to have these issues. That “addict” or “junkie” you are putting down is someone’s son, someone’s daughter.

They could be your neighbor or best friend. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Prescriptions gone awry, childhood trauma, mental illness, and other factors contribute to the likelihood of addiction.

It is a disease that tears apart brains and bodies. When you use labels like “junkie”, it degrades or demeans and that doesn’t help plant the seeds of hope.

When you trash talk the BAART clinic for giving medication to those trying to find recovery, life-saving medication that allows people to function, you are saying their lives aren’t worth improving, aren’t worth saving.

I challenge you today to help me create a safe community where people struggling aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Where people using MAT (medically assisted treatment) are applauded and encouraged to push forward on the healthier path.

I challenge you to see these people with your “humankind” eyes vs. labels and ignorance, because in order for our community to really thrive, we must help lift up those who are at rock bottom.

We must choose love and kindness. We must choose to be educated.

Thoughtfully,
Amy Gillespie

Local Resources-
Journey to Recovery Community Center
Third St, Newport VT 802-624-4156
BAART Clinic Newport- 334-0110
NKHS Derby- 334-6744

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