Families and friends – together we can #StopTheDeaths

The role of family and friends in reducing drug-related deaths is the key focus of this year’s #StopTheDeaths initiative – launched on International Overdose Awareness Day.

#StopTheDeaths is an initiative now in its third year which encourages people across Scotland – people who use drugs, their families and communities, services and policy makers – to understand their role and act to prevent drug overdose deaths. International Overdose Awareness Day (31st August) aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

Although official 2019 figures are yet to be released, there are concerns that the number of deaths could be higher than in 2018, when 1,187 people lives were lost in preventable drug overdose deaths

For #StopTheDeaths 2020, Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) and Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD) have worked together to raise awareness of the role of families in preventing drug deaths and the changes families want to see in addressing this public health emergency.

This year #StopTheDeaths provides a platform for families and friends to share their experiences of preventing drug overdose deaths; empowering them and realising their valuable role in drug overdose prevention.

David Liddell, CEO of SDF, said:

“International Overdose Awareness Day is an opportunity for us all to pause and think what can be done to prevent fatal drug overdoses. Every fatal overdose can be prevented.

“#StopTheDeaths challenges people to take the actions they can to prevent drug deaths – whether we are people who use drugs; family or community members; people working with people who use drugs or people developing and changing policy.

“Families and friends of people with a drug problem can help prevent overdose deaths. Sometimes they can help ensure a person is not using alone or that they are supplied with a Naloxone kit, if that is appropriate. With training and support, families can learn how best to support people when they are most at risk – when they leave treatment for example.”

Justina Murray, CEO of SFAD, said:

“The focus on families for this year’s Stop the Deaths initiative is welcome and timely. We know families play a vital role in preserving and saving the lives of those at high risk of overdose and death, but this is often overlooked. This includes everything from meeting their basic needs for food and shelter, to supporting them to engage with treatment and recovery, and continuing to offer them enduring love, hope and connection.

“In ‘Change Will Come’, Scottish Families’ strategy for 2020-23, we outline 12 Key Changes we want to see. This includes a commitment to champion and support the role of Families as Lifesavers, to reduce the risk of substance-related harm and death.

“We are clear that families are not responsible for their loved one’s safety and survival, or for the harm caused through their alcohol or drug use. But Families as Lifesavers recognises that supporting and including families enables the sharing of risk – between individuals, their families and services.

“In this space, families are no longer bystanders to be ignored and judged, but are right at the heart of risk and harm reduction.”

Family members can share their views and experiences by using #StopTheDeaths on social media or they can submit a statement anonymously through the initiative’s website – www.stopthedeaths.com

Find out other ways to get involved and support the initiative at www.stopthedeaths.com/takepart

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