Overdose Lifeline marks Overdose Awareness Day
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Overdose Lifeline observed its 10th annual Overdose Awareness Day on Sunday. The group gathered the loved ones of people who have overdosed to honor their lives and share their message of overdose prevention.
Overdose Lifeline is an Indiana-based organization that helped make naloxone, the drug that can counteract an overdose, available without a prescription in Indiana. That law is called Aaron’s Law.
“In 2013, I lost my 20-year-old son Aaron to an overdose,” said Justin Phillips, the founder and CEO of Overdose Lifeline.
Phillips is the momentum behind a lot of the work done around overdose prevention in Indiana. After getting Aaron’s Law passed in 2015, Phillips has not stopped working to educate others and provide resources.
“We need to have awareness that it is a chronic disease of the brain,” Phillips said. “We need to normalize it. We need to talk about it. We need to not be afraid to ask for help because people are judging.”
This event gathered families to build community and help spread the word about preventing overdoses.
“So, my son passed from an overdose on July 20th, 2015,” said Kristen Schmitz.
Schmitz said her son Brandon Beeler passed from an overdose seven years ago. She wants other families to help their struggling loved ones before it is too late.
“I really had a blind eye to it. It’s just a matter of getting the word out to people, letting them know they are not alone. Let’s bring education. Let’s bring awareness,” Schmitz said. “How can we support our loved ones getting through this without judgment, without stigma because it is an epidemic.”
Overdose Lifeline provides free naloxone to help increase access. The group encourages everyone to have it on hand.
“You can’t give naloxone to yourself if you’re overdosing, so really, it’s about everyone carrying it as an emergency medication just as the way we encourage people to understand CPR,” Phillips said.
Overdose Lifeline says making naloxone available does not increase drug use but can save lives.
The group is holding a campaign to encourage the use of fentanyl test strips.
Leaders say the campaign is not giving people permission to use drugs but instead is a potentially life-saving step so they can live through this and one day stop using drugs.
The organization’s next event is a Disco Fundraiser on Sept. 15 at Hillcrest Country Club.