Overdose Awareness Month: Our Journeys – Stories of Challenge, Bravery, Hope and Loss

August marks Overdose Awareness Month, with Overdose Awareness Day taking place on Aug 31st each year. 2019 marked what appears to be the most solemn year for Opioid Overdose Fatalities for Grey and Bruce Counties; with 16 Opioid Overdose deaths, which surpasses the previously most challenging year of 2017, which saw 11 Overdose Fatalities.  2020 is shaping up to be another challenging year.

There have been two Overdose alerts in the past two weeks.  There have been at least nine fatal overdoses (unconfirmed) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Grey and Bruce, and there were four overdoses (non-fatal) over the Civic long weekend alone. 

“It is rather ironic and painful that we are starting off Overdose Awareness month with so much hurt and loss,” says Ian Reich, Harm Reduction Manager at Grey Bruce Health Unit. “Our goal for August is to ensure that we spread messages directly from the source – from people that have experience with substance use, and its associated harms. We must always remember that this illness can afflict anyone, at any time, and we need to make sure that the general population understands that addiction does not care who you are – it can affect anyone at any time.”

The Grey Bruce Health Unit has a dedicated page on it’s website to highlight stories of courage, hope, loss and despair.  The goal is to paint a clear picture of the challenges associated with Substance Use disorders and accidental overdose.  It is imperative to present the real life stories of those that have been successful in their recovery, but also, to share the stories of those that have not been able to survive this illness.

The first story is of Andrea’s struggle and success

It highlights a story of strength and courage, and very clearly shows the challenges of finding ones way out of a substance use disorder.  “We thank Andrea for her courage in sharing her story openly for the public to see and hear!” says Reich.  “We urge those that are interested in submitting a story to contact me at … I.Reich@publichealthgreybruce.on.ca . We are interested in stories from anyone that has had an experience with a substance use disorder, has suffered an overdose, or has lost a loved one to an overdose.  The Health Unit would like to provide a platform to ensure that any story that needs to be heard can be.  We will work with everyone that submits their story to be able to highlight it on our webpage.”