Overdose Awareness: A Day of Education & Remembrance in Texas

As record rates of opioid-related deaths continue to plague communities across the United States, officials cite the growing problem of prescription painkiller abuse, along with a jump in heroin, dependence as key contributing factors.

All across the nation, law enforcement agencies and public health officials are working to find ways to combat this costly problem, and they are making an effort to bring an awareness of this dangerous trend into the light.

Often referred to as an epidemic, the opioid crisis is being felt in places like Wichita Falls, Texas, and in many other regions throughout the country. And while opioid abuse is affecting countless individuals, drug abuse is still an issue that is not often discussed openly in public forums. In part, this is due to the shame that is unfortunately still felt surrounding issues of substance abuse. Sadly, this shame can act as a barrier to individuals seeking the information and support needed to combat this deadly disease.

But momentum is growing on a national level to bring the struggle of addiction into the light.

Each August, many Texas communities participate in Texas Overdose Awareness Day. This event is designed to promote awareness about the problem of overdose and addiction, to engage both the recovery community and the community at large in solution-focused dialogue, and for friends and family members of those that have lost their lives due to overdose to honor their loved ones and gain support from each other.

This global event draws individuals from all over the world, and participants are encouraged to wear silver on August 31 to increase visibility for the cause. If you would like to learn more about what your community is doing to commemorate this event, you can search your area at overdoseday.com.  Many Texas communities hold events each year, and residents of Wichita Falls gathered at the Sikes Lake Center located at the intersection Midwestern Parkway and Louis Rodriguez (Behind MSU Wellness Center) for the 2016 event.

Raising awareness about the problem of opioid abuse in Texas must involve a discussion of the ways that mental health issues contribute to the disease. Known as co-occurring disorders, many men and women who struggle with substance abuse also suffer from the sometimes debilitating symptoms of a mental health disorder. Sadly, Texas ranks quite low when it comes to ease of access for supports related to mental and behavioral health, and this factor can amplify the likelihood that an individual suffering from a psychiatric illness may attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to alleviate his or her symptoms.

Fortunately, quality treatment centers are available in Texas and across the country where individuals who are suffering from opioid dependence can access the support they need to enter recovery. While access to care must be improved, more options for substance abuse treatment exist now than ever before both in Texas and throughout the world.

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