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Each year on August 31st, communities rally together to remember their loved ones who have died due to an overdose. This year, I’ll be celebrating 7 years in recovery from opiates. As grateful as I am to have not lost my life from drugs, my heart aches for those that have. I try my hardest to not feel survivors guilt, but it seems to come every year, especially on this day.
How could I possibly think of my recovery when my friends aren’t alongside with me anymore? To be honest, when I hear the raw stories of families grieving, it helps my recovery. I vividly remember and picture them during those moments that I feel so vulnerable to relapsing. So if you’re reading this, and you speak openly about your grief, I promise that it does help people stay in recovery.
Survivors guilt is real. This is what I hear in my head on International Overdose Awareness Day:
-“my friends should’ve been here too”
-“what makes me the lucky one?”
-“I don’t deserve this while others are suffering”
-“some of those friends that died was because they first used with me”
-“it’s my fault”
-“I could have done more”
It’s a constant tape that plays in my mind while I attend these events. How can I comfort the mother of a son I adored, knowing that we used together? How could I share my recovery story while all of these people are grieving?
Honestly, I don’t have answers. I call when called upon and my mission is to bring hope to someone still struggling. My message is of healing and resiliency, which I share with the intention of helping someone else. Although I grieve alongside so many others, I feel as if any strength that I have is from my friend’s who no longer have their voice. This day of recognition is one day out of 365 that I think of them, and I’m grateful to carry their memories with me.
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