Tributes to Overdose Victims

Last week I wrote an article on International Overdose Awareness Day. In that article I referenced the experiences of ten people who are in drug treatment as it pertains to drug overdoses. This week, I did another informal survey of a different group composed of twelve people. Among those twelve people, they had collectively experienced an overdose 18 times.  When asked how many people they knew of that had overdosed, they counted 101. When asked how many of those 101 people had died of drug overdose, they counted 74. Although this is not a scientific study, it provides insight into accidental deaths from medication, alcohol and drugs of abuse, within our rural community.

Prevention and awareness are the goals of International Overdose Awareness Day. The following writings represent some memorial tributes to people who have died of an overdose:

“Andrew was my boyfriend and was taken way too soon. He was a very intelligent man who loved life, his family and friends. He fell asleep and never woke up. I think of him daily and remember the good times we shared. I will always love you Andy!!!”

“I never knew you, but I wish I did. You struggled with addiction that led to the disease that eventually killed you. I hear about you from my father, your brother. I see a lot of what you had done to yourself in my father. I wish he had learned from your mistakes. But instead it has led him down a similar road. Your boys have grown up without a father, but have grown to be amazing men. I am a recovering addict and your story has helped me change my life. I hope someday I can help my father like you helped me. Rest in peace.”

“I have overdosed two times. I have known two people who overdosed and one of these friends died. Robyn died too soon. I wish she had found treatment like I have.”

“We lost Dustin who was only 36 on 7/18/16, just a few weeks ago to addiction.  He was a cute baby, happy child, handsome teen growing up.  He loved his grandparents, siblings, music, drawing (artist).  We his family had strong hopes for his ability’s and skills to take him far.  We dreamed of him being a sports star with his height.  Or maybe a Model with his stunning  good looks.  I always thought with his drawing ability and computer game wiz, for sure a programmer or designer.  But these were Our Dreams for him. His life was a blessing, he has family that love and cares for him. He was my son, father, brother, uncle and left behind 2 sons who he loved.  I am not ashamed of his addiction, what I am ashamed of is not being able to help him stay clean.  Not being able to help him find a rehab facility when we needed it.  I tried tough love, so afraid of enabling him.  He lost the fight with addiction and we lost him.  So many families are going through this same struggle, and fighting for a loved one’s life.  My prayers go out to them, keep fighting, don’t give up looking for help.  Educate yourself and others to help bring this epidemic to an end.”

“My friend and I had our ups and downs. He hurt his back and had constant access to Klonopin, Oxy and Vicodin every day. We went to lunch when I was in town. He said he was leaning. I thought he meant to be with his boy. The next day he was found dead. Did you do this on purpose?”

“I have 15 friends who overdosed. I have 7 friends who have passed away from overdose. I will miss Chad, Rusty, Bill, Adam, Katlyn, Terry. They died far too young. I’m in treatment now and wish they were all in treatment with me here.”

“Allie, you were always so full of life and wanted so much for your daughter. I am still so mad that you left us on purpose. She misses you.”

“I will miss Kim. She was the girlfriend of a good friend. She was only 18 years old. And way too young to die. I wish she was still here, just in treatment.“

“I’ll never forget my father who raised me and provided for me. I never could find something that my Dad couldn’t fix and we truly were best friends. We hunted, did target practice, fished and he showed me how to never need help with ever fixing anything, from life problems to work. I know my Dad would be very proud of where I’m at in life from where I was. You’re truly missed.”

“Randy was our nephew. He passed away by mixing alcohol and methadone. He was a great man and a talented musician. He is missed every day and was taken too soon.”

“I am paying tribute to all of the people who have overdosed. I remember quite a few people, gone too soon, that inspired me and then ended up overdosing after they had started to use. Some of these people were so intelligent and had such a bright mind it is so sad and I miss some so dearly.”

“I have overdosed one time. I have known ten friends who overdosed. Five of those people died. I will miss Matt, Tim, Nick, Lilly, Nate. I wish everyone who needs treatment was here. I miss all of them. All were great people who battled substance abuse. They didn’t plan on this outcome, but all would hope that others could learn from their mistakes and get the help they all deserve.”

“I have known of four people to have overdosed. Of these four people, three died. Two of these people are the brothers of two of my friends. Their deaths run through my thoughts often. I know they both were smart and talented men and had so much to offer. They never got that chance. They knew each other and their deaths are so similar. They stayed with their sisters, went to bed fine and their sisters came downstairs to find them overdosed on heroin and pills.”

“I hope you rest easy BS and BB. I had fun times with both of them. They are missed by many.”

“My brother passed away five years ago of alcohol related complications. He was my go-to guy. He was one of the smartest people I knew. He was my life-coach, whether it was presenting a speech to my high school class, doing my taxes, or advising me on building my business. We shared family grievances. And he made me laugh. I miss you Steve.”

Please join me on Wednesday, August 31st at 5:00 pm at Midwest Medical Center, Galena to honor those who have died. This event is co-sponsored by Galena Clinic, First Presbyterian Church and Midwest Medical Center. We will offer prevention education as well as an opportunity to memorialize your loved ones.

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