KFL&A anti-stigma campaign to launch on International Overdose Awareness Day

The theme for IOAD 2023 is “recognizing those people who go unseen.” Image via IOAD.

Next week, representatives from Moms Stop the Harm, the Support Not Stigma initiative, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) community partners are commemorating International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) with an event at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 560, located at 734 Montreal Street.

An event will be held on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023, marking the important date and raising awareness for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are lost to drug overdose, as well as the survivors who suffer permanent injury, with devastating impact to their family and friends.

The IOAD 2023 theme “recognizing those people who go unseen” is about acknowledging people in our communities who are affected by overdose but might go unseen in the crisis, according to the IOAD website.

The local organizers stated that drug overdoses happen everywhere, and that you or someone you know may have been affected in some way.

“It could easily happen to someone you love. For too long, the drug poisoning and overdose crisis has been hidden in the shadows. International Overdose Awareness Day provides an opportunity for us to talk about and prevent overdose in our community. Having the real facts about drugs, the toxic supply and knowing what to do when you see someone experiencing overdose saves lives,” event organizers said in a press release on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023.

Submitted poster.

Everyone is welcome to show their support at the event. The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 2 to 5:30 p.m. Community Partner Booths
  • 3 to 4 p.m. Support Not Stigma Media Launch
  • 6 to 8 p.m. Special Guest Speakers
  • 8 to 9 p.m. Candlelight Vigil and Sacred Fire (weather permitting)

“International Overdose Awareness Day is a time for people to come together to recognize the growing medical crisis and loss of thousands of lives every day. It’s a day to educate, to advocate and to decrease the stigma associated with substance use and toxic drug poisoning. On a personal note, it is a day to honour my son, Tyler, who lost his life at the age of 26 due to a multi-drug toxic drug poisoning,” said Andrea Keller, Chair of the KFLA IOAD 2023 Planning Group.

“You and your loved ones are not immune to this growing crisis,” Keller continued. “Until we recognize addiction as a medical disease, start treating people who use substances with compassion and kindness, and provide equal access to treatment and care as any person with a chronic illness, every day there will continue to be thousands of families and loved ones who suffer the pain and loss that my family has experienced.”

According to the release, at the 3 p.m. media launch, the KFL&A Community Drug Strategy Advisory Committee and Trellis HIV & Community Care will outline an anti-stigma campaign to increase awareness of substance use stigma and its negative impact on people’s lives. The campaign aims to humanize people who use substances and promote understanding and compassion around how trauma lies at the root of addiction, and further information on that campaign is expected to be released in the coming days.

Find out what you can do to make Kingston a kinder place for people impacted by substance use by visiting supportnotstigma.ca.

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