For every person in the United States that dies from a drug overdose there are family and friends that continue to mourn their loss. Tuesday was International Drug Overdose Awareness Day and Doc and I were honored to be asked to participate in an event that focused not only on the staggering amount of overdoses but to bring comfort to their loved ones.
Last year, overdose deaths in the United States increased 30% as 93,000 people lost their lives. Death by overdose is now the number one cause of death by those under fifty years of age. It is a shocking statistic and each year it gets worse. The pandemic has only compounded the problem. Luckily there are agencies like the one we work for and the other many wonderful agencies that were present today that focus on helping those that feel broken and just need a lift up to get better.
Today I knew that it was very important for me to stay focused as Doc told me I had an important job to do. As people approached me I comforted them in the best way I knew how. When they wrote their deceased loved ones names on flags or pinwheels that were displayed on the lawn, I could feel their grief as the memories flooded back. I also took the time to comfort the many people that are helpers, like the sheriff that told us how many times he has given Narcan to try and save a life, all the counselors, doctors, nurses, prevention specialists and those that work at the coroners office that see the cold reality of this other pandemic we are facing.
As for Doc, she told me about the client’s she has lost to overdose. No matter how many years have gone by there are days like this that bring the loss back to her leaving her feeling sad. This is when I act as Doc’s therapy dog and remind her of all the people our treatment center has helped to heal from the disease of addiction and lead healthy lives again. This is always the blessing of what we do every day and what we stay focused on. One person at a time.