New book challenges stigma faced by families of overdose victims
Amid an epidemic sweeping the country, loved ones shed light on the shocking struggles to find help
By: AlyBlue Media
A compilation of stories by surviving family members, the book challenges societal stigma, lays bare the death of indignity that comes from overdose, and exposes the problems behind the struggles to find help amid societal judgment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there were over 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, an average of 192 each day in the U.S. According to the National Institutes of Health, stigma related to drug use may increase overdose risk, and the effectiveness of overdose prevention may be improved by reducing discrimination against people who use drugs.
"An addict carries the stigmatized visual of someone who had no home and lived on the fringe of society. Emily always had a roof over her head, food in her stomach, clean clothes to wear, and a family who loved her," states Kimberly Calais, whose 23-year-old daughter died from an overdose in 2016. "People from every walk of life seem to have the opinion that addicts are just dirty losers. My daughter was once just like your little girl."
"The stigma surrounding substance abuse is killing our loved ones and preventing them from getting treatment. We view drug addicts as criminals and regard jail time as treatment," states coauthor Whitney O'Brien, whose 23-year-old brother died from an overdose in 2016. "There needs to be change in this country. The stories shared in this book can and will serve a purpose."
"As an R.N., I was appalled at how my son was treated, especially by medical personnel. We are not to pass judgment—we are to save lives. The stigma was alive in every detox and emergency room he was treated in," shares MaryBeth Cichocki, whose 37-year-old son died in 2015 from a Percocet overdose after being treated by a pain management clinic.
"This book challenges many social ideas on the loss that comes from drug overdose. As a sociologist, I call for greater academic study and involvement. As a pastor, I call for compassion and better instruction and training," states sociologist and police chaplain Rev. Roland Johnson.
Creator of the award-winning series and author of over 35 books on loss, grief and love, Lynda Cheldelin Fell is founding partner of the International Grief Institute, an educational consulting firm.
Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss by Overdose is now available around the world including Amazon.