Cities across Broward County rally for International Overdose Awareness Day.
By Brett Clarkson
Sun Sentinel: August 30th, 2016
As many as six people a week die in Broward, and farther north, in Delray Beach, a recent Friday saw six overdoses in one night, amid a record-breaking July in the city, where 66 overdosed, seven of them fatally.
That’s why, activists say, International Overdose Awareness Day, which takes place today, is especially important.
“This is no longer a skid row issue or a moral issue,” said Linda Mautner, 55, a Delray Beach activist. “This is a disease.”
In fact, more than 28,000 people died from opioid pain relievers and heroin in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says on its website that the United States “is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.”
Started in Australia in 2001 to raise awareness and commemorate those who have died as a result of an overdose, the day has steadily grown around the world, with rallies happening in cities across the globe. This year in South Florida, several rallies are planned, including in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Supporters are encouraged to wear silver.
“We need urgent, immediate action from our local, state, and federal governments to curb this epidemic,” said Maureen Kielian, an organizer of the Fort Lauderdale rally, which is set for Friday, Sept. 2, from 3-5:30 p.m., at Stranahan Park at 100 S. Andrews Avenue.
“We’re losing as many people, if not more, than we were during the pill mills,” said Kielian, who said she became an activist after her son, who is now in recovery, started battling addiction at age 17 after taking painkillers for back pain.
For Mautner, her inspiration to get involved began after her son Ian committed suicide by jumping off an overpass in Boynton Beach in 2014. Just 20 years old, he had been battling an addiction to kratom, she said.
“This hits close to home for me,” she said.
The West Palm Beach rally is scheduled for Wednesday. Aug. 31, at Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1300 South Olive Avenue, from 6-8:30 p.m.
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