Last night I had the pleasure of participating in a Narcotics and Overdose Candlelight Vigil. It was a lovely community event that allowed for family and friends to remember those who have died by overdose and to also remember those still living with the disease of addiction today.

There is an overdose epidemic right now in our community and in many others. More businesses are carrying naloxone (narcan), the opioid antidote, in order to combat this. Some overdoses are intentional, but some are also by misadventure and accidental. This is because you never know what you are actually taking. If you think it’s just cocaine, think again, because it very well may be laced with fentanyl or another powerful drug with sedative effects. Not to get into technical terms, these drugs slow your breathing to an ineffective rate and often stop your breathing all together. If you are lucky enough to be near someone with the antidote (preferably the paramedics as they are also trained in advanced airway management) you may have the effects reversed. But not many people are so lucky.

The night couldn’t help but bring me back to when I overdosed. How I was the one who needed care by the paramedics (my colleagues) and hospital staff. How it was my friends and family who suffered while they waited to see if I would survive. I didn’t take medications that had an antidote, so it was up to my body to metabolize the pills and alcohol I took – and I was lucky to survive. I still carry much guilt and shame surrounding these events. I know that I was very sick back then and I was not trying to hurt anyone, but I am very much responsible for the pain I inflicted on people who loved me. I try to make a living amends every day by showing them that I am clean and sober and still going to my 12 step meetings so that I can stay that way. I don’t ever want to hurt anyone the way I did again.

I send love to all of those who have lost a loved one to overdose/addiction. And I pray that this epidemic will stop.