“The environment was empty, the antagonist hidden, and I drifted into solo adventures”. William S. Burroughs.
The image of drug addiction evokes polarizing opinion. There is the romanticized image – the fuel of a bohemian movement whose members aspire to expand on creativity and search for utopia. Then there is the solemn image of a social misfit whose descent into addiction is all too often explained with simplicity – their’s was one of weakness rather than a harsh reality that is often the result of something traumatic. The stereotype is either a starved dreamer or a silent marginalized member of society looking to numb an unspeakable, often misunderstood pain. Either way, a death by a drug overdose is ultimately seen as nothing more than death by over indulgence – a demise defined by excess.
International Overdose Awareness Day taking place on August 31st is a day to commemorate the lives lost and effected by the plight of addiction, to support their families and loved ones and to take the opportunity to address stigma. The stories of addiction may be subjective but their numbers aren’t. According the The World Drug Report by the United Nations, Australia is a nation that has a higher than average drug mortality rate with between 1,700 and 2,100 deaths in 2013. This just on top of the fact that the enabling force is an industry that profits off the marginalized.
On August 31st we all have a chance to take action in dismantling the myths and misconceptions of addiction. It’s a moment where we should stop and think about dependence, what is it, who it effects, who is at risk, why is it effective and how we all can take a collective effort to re-define these notions. In the end there is a silver lining to be found.
Thank you guest author, Claire Peter-Budge