Purple flags fly and purple lights shine for Overdose Awareness Day on August 31
Addiction is often a hushed topic, as families privately confront its effects, and even grieve over lives lost. The Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services (MHARS) Board is recognizing August 31 as International Overdose Awareness Day with a series of public, visible tributes across Lorain County.
“Our Opioid Response Community Engagement Team wanted to put the topic of overdose and addiction right out there, in purple, for all to see and acknowledge,” said Jinx Mastney, the Board’s Opioid Response Outreach Coordinator and Chair of the team. “And we found eager partners in Lorain County businesses, organizations and residents who realize that it’s time to show clear support for families who are facing a disease that devastates, but from which it is possible to recover.”
More than 30 businesses and organizations are displaying 89 purple flags, in tribute to the 89 lives lost to accidental overdose in Lorain County in 2019. Churches and other buildings with bells will toll them for 89 seconds at noon on Monday. Other buildings will shine with purple lights.
The day launches September’s Recovery Month, a national observance to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives.
“Our Board observes Overdose Awareness Day to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. Seeing such widespread support from the community also encourages our addiction prevention work,” said Elaine Georgas, Interim Director of the MHARS Board.
Mastney said that she will be wearing purple, the international color of Overdose Awareness Day, on Monday. She also expects to see photos online of residents wearing purple, with posts using the hashtags #endoverdose and #recoveryisbeautiful.
“The purple lights, purple flags, bells, and even my purple shirt, are a signal to the wider community that we support our neighbors, no matter their struggle,” Mastney said.
She also will attend an event hosted by Let’s Get Real, Inc., an agency in the MHARS network of addiction and mental health providers. The “Candles in Remembrance” event on Monday, August 31, at 8 p.m., at 1939 Oberlin Avenue in Lorain, will include the opportunity for participants to share a photo and a message about a loved one.
A map of flag locations, plus other information about activities, ways to get involved or find help for a loved one, are available at mharslc.org/recovery. Stories of recovery will be available throughout the month of September at the Board’s Facebook page, facebook.com/mharslc.
The Addiction Helpline is available at 440-989-4900.
The MHARS Board is the behavioral health authority that plans, funds and monitors mental health and addiction services in Lorain County. Learn more at mharslc.org.