Overdose Awareness To Take International Stage

Aug 29, 2019

International Overdose Awareness Day is approaching on August 31. Cities around Illinois are preparing for events intended to remember those who’ve died of an overdose and educate community members. 

Events range from marches to public training on how to use prescription drugs like Narcan, a brand of Naloxone, that block the effects of opioids. 

One mother based in Cherry, Illinois been organizing an awareness walk for eight years. 

Lori Brown started the non-profit Buddy’s Purpose in 2012.

Brown said "Buddy" was the nickname of her son, Justin Pratt, who died of heroin overdose in 2011. Brown and partners, like the Dusty Roads Foundation, have organized educational and preventative events and meetings ever since. 

She said there’s more discussion about opioid misuse in recent years than when they first started but there’s still work to do. 

“Absolutely the epidemic is still happening. I think we're seeing a little bit of change with drugs, you know, heroin, and opiates [are] what we focused on at the time, but I know we're seeing more crystal meth come back into play, and other drugs,” she said.

The LaSalle County Coroner recorded 34 overdose-related deaths in 2017 and 39 in 2018. That rate dropped to eight so far this year.

She said there’s a stigma against the use of reviving drugs like Naloxone. She said her organization uses grant money and donations to provide Naloxone for free. 

“Naloxone isn't a treatment. It is just like, you know, paddles to revive someone's heart. It's the first step in getting them into treatment and getting them into a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

Brown organizes the annual Buddy’s Purpose Overdose Awareness Walk. Brown said the effects of opioid addiction affects all people in the community -- from children to grandparents.

“People who passed from an overdose are loved. They are someone’s son, daughters, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandchildren, husband, wife,” she said. “They're not, they're not a throwaway. Their life meant something. And for us who are still here, it's not that we grieve their past, we grieve the future they were cut short of.”

LaSalle County holds an overdose awareness week leading up to the march. Brown said organizers have been tying purple ribbons around trees, holding public Naloxone trainings, and displaying billboards with a picture of her son on them. 

The 8th Annual Buddy’s Purpose Overdose Awareness Walk will be held in Blackstone Park in Mendota at 10 a.m. Saturday. Events are also scheduled in cities like Hillsboro, Woodstock, and Effingham.