DUNDALK — Outside of Boulevard Diner in Dundalk, crosses stand on the lawn. These simple symbols are a somber reminder of those lost from overdose.
Addiction has touched virtually every family in the United States, and due to poisoned drug supply and unprecedented demand, fatal overdoses are on the rise. People we love — and even many family or friends throughout the 50 years of The Eagle staffers — have died or are dying.
Substance use disorder, also called addiction, does not discriminate.
On Saturday, we will commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day. Baltimore County is augmenting the occasion with newly minted signs throughout the county promising statistics on overdoses and drug-related deaths. One Voice Dundalk is having a day-long event on Friday to recognize the day.
On Sunday, we begin a new month. And joy comes in the morning.
“It occurs to me again that it’s International Overdose Awareness Day, and somehow I woke up alive,” I wrote for Huffington Post two years ago.
“The war stories just don’t matter today.”
Some will wear silver to commemorate. Others will visit the grave of their child, brother or lover who died this tragic, undignified death. (Undignified on face, anyway.) Some don’t know Overdose Awareness Day even exists; they don’t know there’s a worldwide campaign to #EndOverdose. Someone will overdose today and live. Someone will overdose today and die.
All too often, I’m reminded there are those who visit these graves daily, through the unhealed wrench in the heart, or the persistent pit in a stomach. There are parents, children and siblings that walk the earth as zombies, numbed and hollow from the overdose death of their own. They are living mausoleums to what might have been.
And I woke up today. As a person in long-term recovery, I have survived overdose three times when I was in the throes of disordered substance use.
I woke up today. And it’s not fair to those who didn’t. But I will always use my voice to acknowledge, honor and hold space for those who didn’t wake up today. We owe it to our community to have hard conversations about reducing the harms of substance use.
And we owe it to those who died before we were more able to help them live.