People struggling with addiction help save lives on International Overdose Awareness Day

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GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day – a day to remember those who lost their battle with addiction.

“There’s only two ways to enjoy sobriety and one of them’s alive. That’s what I’d like to be. I’d like to be alive just to enjoy it,” said Chris Decot. He has never publicly shared his story of addiction until now. He wants everyone to know recovery is possible.

Chris had a wife, two kids, a home, and a job he loved. He lost it all at the age of 50 when he became addicted to methadone after getting injured at work. Soon, Chris was homeless, living on the streets of Greenfield, doing what he could to get a steady supply of opiates. “Addiction’s an alternate universe. It walks right beside me. All I have to do is take a wrong turn anytime I want and I’m back in the fold again,” Chris said. Eight years, and at least eight times in detox, Chris is sober. He’s alive. He said part of his life is damaged, but he can wake up each day appreciating the small things, which, he didn’t realize until they were gone, were really the big things.

According to Tapestry Health,1,658 people died from overdoses in Massachusetts in 2015.

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day to remember those lives.

It seems everyone knows of someone who lost their battle with addiction. “My daughter’s 19 year old best friend died August 26, 2015 in a rehabilitation hospital,” said Penelope Davis. She volunteers at The Recover Project in Greenfield. She describes the project as a peer to peer help network for people in all stages of recovery and addiction. It’s a safe place. It’s what Decot said saved his life.

Overdose deaths are also common when people relapse. Davis said the best way to save lives is to prevent addiction in the first place – to look at what causes people to start using.

On the same day as International Overdose Awareness Day, the Department of Health and Human Services announced 53 million dollars to 44 states to help fund treatment services. However, people who work in addiction, said that number should really be in the billions to make a real difference.

Sarah Ahearn of the Franklin County Opioid Task Force, said the epidemic should be treated as a national emergency. That way, it would be aptly funded and would save lives. “We’re losing 329 souls a day and it’s about unity. Everybody needs to unite and come together on this front,” Ahearn told 22News.

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