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Overdose Awareness Day: Honoring the lives lost

Posted at 8:10 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 08:10:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The heart of the city was lit up in purple Monday morning as a reminder that substance use disorders impact thousands of families.

For "Overdose Awareness Day," the IPL building on Monument Circle lit up purple. It's a day to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends whose loved ones have died from a drug overdose. Overdose Awareness Day also spreads the message that the tragedy is preventable.

Those who lost their lives to an overdoes were honored and remembered at the Indiana State Museum on Sunday evening. "Overdose Lifeline" hosted the event, and organizers say they wanted to give those grieving a place to be together and not feel alone.

WRTV talked to a couple who lost their 25-year-old son in June of last year to a substance use disorder. They say they hope to help prevent other families from experiencing the same tragedy.

"Erasing the stigma never meant as much to us as it has since we experienced our loss," Walt Justus said. "Seeing how society has stigmatized mental illness and substance abuse for many many years. We are slowly starting to see that being erased. Still, a lot of work to do."

"By families not discussing it, they are implying there is something wrong. There is a character flaw with their loved ones. When, in fact, addiction and mental illness is a disease. We were proud of our son. He tried hard; we are proud of everyone who fights this battle," Jane Justus said. "With this, there is often no care plan; with other diseases, there is a care plan."

A naloxone training session was held at yesterday's event. Organizers say it's especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the state, compared to last year, there has been a 60% increase in naloxone administration by EMS.

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