LEXINGTON, Ky. (8/28/13) – The past few articles in this series have dealt with local efforts to combat substance abuse and overdoses in the Lexington area. However, Saturday, Aug. 31 will be a day that represents awareness on not just a state-wide level, but internationally.
International Drug Overdose Day is held on August 31 every year. According to www.overdoseday.com, the day commemorates those who have died or been permanently injured as a result of drug overdose, and also acknowledges the grief felt by their family and friends. It's observed world-wide, and aims to raise awareness of drug-related deaths from country to country.
Lexington's Drug Free Lex Project Coordinator Sharon Tankersley said the initiative is just now beginning to blossom in the U.S. In honor of the day, Drug Free Lex has distributed silver ribbons that help signify how “the infinite value of each human being nullifies the prejudice and stigma towards people who use drugs.”
“We try all the time to de-stigmatize addiction, because it's a disease,” said Tankersley. “Too many people out of fear of being stigmatized or being judged do not reach out and get help until it's possibly too late.”
Tankersley said the silver color and ribbon have been chosen as a universal symbol to celebrate life and to raise awareness for issues surrounding addiction, overdoses and death, much like a pink ribbon represents breast cancer awareness.
“It's just a little silver lapel ribbon that we've distributed as far and wide as we could in the short time that we've been aware of this movement,” said Tankersley. “We're encouraging people to just wear them and to talk about these issues with their family, with their loved ones, with the people that they work with, and those that they're in the community with.”
Tankersley added that she and Drug Free Lex are excited to help promote an initiative that reaches far beyond the city limits of Lexington.
“Our group is just really all about trying to remind everyone in the community that addiction can affect any family. It's no respect of persons,” said Tankersley. “None of us have any position to judge anyone else for the struggles that they face.”
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