HALIBURTON, ON – They are more than overdose statistics. Behind the numbers are real individuals – mothers, fathers, children, partners, and others – who leave behind loved ones.
Acknowledging the grief and ending the stigma associated with overdose deaths is the focus of an Overdose Awareness Day event coming to Haliburton’s Head Lake Park on Wednesday, August 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit (HKPR District Health Unit), John Howard Society of Kawartha Lakes & Haliburton, and other concerned community partners are organizing the event, which falls on International Overdose Awareness Day.
“Overdose is often seen as a dirty word that comes with lots of baggage, but this is an unfortunate view that’s far from the truth,” says Natasha James, the Harm Reduction and Crisis Coordinator, with the local John Howard Society. “People who use drugs do so for many reasons. If an overdose or death occurs due to a poisoned drug supply as it often does, we cannot blame the victims. Overdoses are a societal scourge that we must all work to address to save lives and end the stigma.”
Kate Hall, a Health Promoter with the HKPR District Health Unit, echoes this point. “Let’s remember that overdoses are a health issue, not a criminal issue, and that with increased community awareness and action, we can save lives,” she says. “The Overdose Awareness Day event in Haliburton is meant to remember those who have died from overdoses and recognize the grief felt by loved ones left behind. We encourage everyone to come out on August 31st to show their support. In the event of an overdose or death due to a poisoned drug supply, families and friends need compassion and support to grieve their loved one without blame or shame. Addressing stigma within each of us and reducing the harms of drug use will save lives.”
The Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 in Haliburton’s Head Lake Park will feature guest speakers, music, refreshments, and activities for all ages. Special guests include Jon Perrin from the Twisted Trauma Foundation who will share his story of being a first responder suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 comes as opioid overdose-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths continue to surge in the HKPR District Health Unit region.
For more information on accessing naloxone kits and reducing overdoses, visit the HKPR District Health Unit’s web page.