September 3 — The company has made progress in demonstrating understanding for people with mental illness.
And those who struggle with alcohol can now find help and empathy, rather than contempt.
But we still have a long way to go when it comes to drug addiction and drug overdoses. This is why a rally this week in a park in Mankato was an important event and a promising sign.
More than 80 people gathered for Overdose Awareness Day to remember those who died of overdoses and continue the work to break down the stigma surrounding drug addiction and overdose.
The number of overdose deaths, including locally, is alarming. The overdose epidemic killed a record 93,331 Americans and 1,008 Minnesotans in 2020. Sadly, even more deaths are expected this year.
Fortunately, more and more people have made the difficult decision to come forward and speak publicly about a child, spouse, parent or loved one who has died of an overdose. It is a powerful way to show the pain that a person’s overdose causes to those who remain. The visibility also shows that the overdose victims were human beings who may have struggled with addiction, but were loved ones who also made others happy.
Too often in the past, and still in many cases today, even people who have successfully overcome their addiction felt the need to do so in private, feeling stigma or shame about their addiction.
Beyond offering more empathy and support to people struggling with addiction, the community must continue its efforts to educate young people about the risks of drug use and provide the necessary support for medical resources and security. public.
Many victims of overdoses in recent years have used drugs they did not know where they were associated with with deadly drugs such as fentanyl. Getting the message across to young people about these dangers is vital as the overdose and death crisis shows no signs of abating.
The River Valley Drugs Task Force that covers Blue Earth, Nicollet, Watonwan and Martin counties reported 86 overdoses and five deaths in 2020. The death toll this year has already exceeded last year’s figures.
Reversing these disturbing trends will not be easy, but every effort must be made. Parents should discuss the problem with children, and friends should reach out to loved ones they know are struggling with drug use.
This is a community problem that requires a community response.