By Doreen Barr
August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. It is a time to reflect and remember loved ones lost to overdose. Around the world, International Overdose Awareness Day has been commemorated by hundreds of communities every August 31 since 2012. This event has taken on a very personal meaning for me. Sadly, this is my eighth year without my son, Ryan, an honor graduate of Starr’s Mill High School. He lost his battle with addiction May 21, 2015, when the lethal grip of fentanyl laced his substance. Our lives are forever changed.
In observance of the upcoming International Overdose Awareness Day, we rally under the theme “We See You” to pay tribute to individuals whose lives have been profoundly affected by the ravages of overdose. Among them are the bereaved families and friends who navigate the pain of losing loved ones, the dedicated healthcare professionals, and the spontaneous first responders, who courageously undertake the mantle of life preservation.
This day is also a great opportunity to spread awareness around Substance Use Disorder; the bedrock of this endeavor being drug education and awareness, underscored by the indispensable facet of communication. A heightened discourse with our students, parents, and community leaders regarding the perils of prescription medications and other substances is imperative as we seek to dismantle the stigma surrounding substance use disorder and support the nearly 25 million people in recovery. It is also important to remember the 108,331 overdose fatalities reported in the United States for 2022, with Georgia accounting for 2,548 amongst them. This is a 30% surge from 2021 and the most recorded in a single year according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Addiction experts say the increase in overdose deaths was largely driven by the increased presence of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Other contributing factors include problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as increased isolation and job loss.
On August 31st, the nonprofit foundation, In Ryan’s Name, Inc., partners with Drug Free Fayette to solemnly commemorate this event. The ceremony will unfold beside the memorial Crepe Myrtle Tree in downtown Fayetteville at 140 Stonewall Ave. W. The community is invited to attend. We will begin at 6:00 PM by inscribing loved one’s names on purple ribbons which will be hung on the tree. Each name will be announced followed by a moment of silence. “Say their names” so they are not forgotten.
Esteemed community figures will address the gathering, including Fayette County Commissioner Eric Maxwell and Peachtree City Deputy Police Chief Matt Myers.
Drug Free Fayette will provide medication lock boxes and Deterra Drug Deactivation/Disposal Kits to promote secure storage and responsible disposal of prescription medications.
In Ryan’s Name and Drug Free Fayette graciously thank our community partners for supporting this event; The City of Fayetteville, Fayette FACTOR, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Arise Counseling and Coaching, Coweta Force, Attainable Dreams, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, McIntosh Trail, GA Department of Public Health, Peachtree City Police Department, City of Fayetteville Police Department, The Insight Program, and Talbott Recovery.
For any questions about this event, you can reach out to DrugFreeFayette@fayettefactor.org or visit the website at www.DrugFreeFayette.org. You may also contact Doreen Barr at email@example.com