Remembering Those Lost and Celebrating Those Here
Last week, before the start of the Labor Day weekend, a crowd of people marched from the BELIEVE sign in downtown Reno to Wingfield Park to mark International Overdose Awareness Day. During the event, organized by Join Together Northern Nevada, people drew messages on craft flowers dedicated to loved ones lost and inspiring notes for those still here. Many, including Morgan Green, who was one of the speakers, wore a purple shirt with #EndOverdose written on it.
“I come from a family of addiction, so this is my way of being able to kind of give back and bring that light to other people, that you can overcome a lot of this,” Green said. She said she stays positive despite losing a loved one to overdose. “I've also been lucky enough to see a lot of my family members make it through and really be able to step up and come together.”
Using Grant Money and Naloxone Kits
Green is currently a project coordinator for the Opioid Crisis (STR) and State Opioid Response (SOR) grant programs. The government grants aim to increase access to treatment, and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through prevention, treatment and recovery. Green also works on trying to change the way that law enforcement see individuals struggling with substance abuse.
During the event, Green urged everyone to grab a free naloxone kit, which can save someone’s life. She talked about how to use it, what to use it for and how to notice signs of an overdose. She says that everyone should carry a kit with them.
“I'm really excited to see just the wide breadth of people who are here,” she said. “We have treatment providers, we have law enforcement, and we have people in recovery themselves, and people who are currently using. Just seeing everyone come together under one house and for one purpose really gets that conversation starting and it breaks those barriers in our society.”
Getting People into Treatment Sooner and Building Compassion
Green kept stressing how important it is for those suffering from substance abuse not to feel isolated. She said these types of events make everyone feel closer.
“This really breaks the stigma around substance use,” she said. “It brings recognition that people are willing to step up and help if they see someone struggling. And when you know that there's people out there who are willing to help you, it makes you a lot more comfortable being able to admit when you're struggling and ask for that help. So, it encourages people to get into treatment sooner. It also just brings the community together so they're not shunning someone who may really just need that comfort.”
Finally, Green said she hoped people’s biggest takeaway from taking part in the march or finding out about it is to not see individuals as their addiction or disability but as people.