Statisticians keep count. Politicians pass laws. Police are overwhelmed. Preachers condemn. Doctors medicate. Business looks at the bottom line. And academia is stymied. Yet the flood of heartache and sorrow continues.
Drugs are rampant in today’s world, yet nobody has answers. We only have stories. Our stories. The stories of our intelligent, kind and promising loved ones who fell victim to a villain disguised as pills, capsules, liquids, and powders that overpowered their logic, willpower, and survival instinct.
Surviving Loss by Overdose is a compilation of stories by 12 people who answered 18 questions about losing a loved one to overdose in hopes of raising awareness, educating, and inviting society to offer survivors the compassion that’s often denied in a stigmatized death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there were over 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, an average of 192 each day in the U.S. According to the National Institutes of Health, stigma related to drug use may increase overdose risk, and the effectiveness of overdose prevention may be improved by reducing discrimination against people who use drugs.
“An addict carries the stigmatized visual of someone who had no home and lived on the fringe of society. Emily always had a roof over her head, food in her stomach, clean clothes to wear, and a family who loved her,” states Kimberly Calais, whose 23-year-old daughter died from an overdose in 2016. “People from every walk of life seem to have the opinion that addicts are just dirty losers. My daughter was once just like your little girl.”
“The stigma surrounding substance abuse is killing our loved ones and preventing them from getting treatment. We view drug addicts as criminals and regard jail time as treatment,” states coauthor Whitney O’Brien, whose 23-year-old brother died from an overdose in 2016. “There needs to be change in this country. The stories shared in this book can and will serve a purpose.”
“This book challenges many social ideas on the loss that comes from drug overdose. As a sociologist, I call for greater academic study and involvement. As a pastor, I call for compassion and better instruction and training,” states sociologist and police chaplain Rev. Roland Johnson.