Overdose Awareness Day - August 31, 2019
Today is Overdose Awareness Day. Over the course of the month of August, we shared the names, pictures, and stories of women we have lost, as an organization, in our journey over the last few years. To you, these were only stories, but to us these women were our sisters and friends. Women who have sat on the couches at our Drop-In Center sharing their lives and their pain with us. We were able to help some of them attempt to exit and, for others, we loved them through the “life.”
One thing we can tell you is that each of these women has impacted us deeply, leaving their mark on our hearts and our worlds. We miss them every day. Each of these women has driven us to fight harder for the system changes necessary to keep us from continuing to lose more of our friends. The peer support work LIFT does is incredibly difficult. We do not see the women we work with as “clients” or “patients” – they are our sisters and friends. Women who we have advocated alongside in the criminal justice system, women whose children and families we have met, women for whom we tried our best to support in whatever way they needed, at whatever moment they asked.
We have laughed with them, cried with them, had make-shift fashion shows at the Drop-In Center with them, danced with them, and loved them as they were — women in the life, longing to exit but trapped by the significant societal barriers they faced.
Some have impacted us in ways we will never forget, some have driven us to create programs in their names, but ALL are missed by us. This world has lost incredibly talented, compassionate, smart, strong, and funny women to Substance Use Disorder. Women that could have been saved if we had the treatment they needed, on demand, when they asked for it, if we had treatment available to met the multiplicity of needs that survivors have, if we had access to life saving medicine that should be available to all individuals seeking it, if we had reentry support, if we had housing our sisters need, if, if, if………….
We long for the day when all of the “ifs” become “nows”. The day that we no longer receive messages that one of our sisters we were working with is no longer on this earth, the day that we are helping more women exit than we are losing, the day that the losses stop. It has been a difficult few years and we are tired of losing our sisters and our friends.
Sisters, we remember you all today and every day. You drive us to work harder, fight harder, and we will not forget you. On Overdose Awareness Day we honor you, and vow to continue to fight for the day where we have hope and healing, instead of wakes and funerals.