Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is today. I became aware of this event when browsing the Harm Reduction Coalition site. Clicking through to overdoseday.com, I learned that IOAD was founded over a decade ago in Australia.*

Also over a decade ago, I lost my dear friend Carla to a drug-related accidental death that one might call an “overdose”, except that no single drug found in her system would, alone, have precipitated her falling asleep and not waking up. I’ve since come to call this type of death a death by “medi-mix”, a mixing and matching of drugs and alcohol to tackle unwanted symptoms, thoughts and feelings like pain, sadness, sleeplessness, tension or anxiety.

overdose death is preventable I’ve also found myself using her first name as a verb, as in “I don’t want to get a call and learn he Carla’d out!” or, sadly, more recently, “she Carla’d out”. Maybe dark humor helps me deal with the feelings of grief and helplessness. Details of how Carla died came to light because she died in a county where autopsy reports are a matter of public record. Ordering one cost less than $30. That was the price of learning details on how this healthy woman of 42 “died in her sleep”.

That the risky mixing and matching of sleep aids, anxiolytics, opioids, stimulants, and alcohol even has a name in my lexicon (“medi-mix”) is disturbing. It’s not that it happens often, it’s that it follows a recognizable pattern. Since Carla’s death, several friends and acquaintances have exhibited concerning patterns with various depressants, usually during times of great stress, but not always. Most have survived without dying, so far.

The Overdose Awareness Day site promotes wearing a silver ribbon pin; I’ve worn one this month to remember Carla and anyone else in my acquaintance, any public figure, and any other person who has died or suffered from a non-lethal overdose, whether it’s a result of taking too much of a single drug or a drug combination accident.

Please talk with family and friends about this topic, even if it feels awkward. It might make make a difference in someone’s life!


*IOAD is now managed by Penington Institute, a nonprofit group that “advances health and community safety by connecting substance use research to practical action”. Actions dedicated to overdose awareness on August 31 are organized outside Australia, too.

Into the Arms of Morpheus

First, sleep is good.

Second, I enjoy the double entendre (quadruple?) of “arms of Morpheus” of sleep and morphine, of unconsciousness, dream, and nightmare.

As a not opioid-phile myself, I do not have an association between sleep and opiates/opioids, but as a life-long serious insomniac, I have a strong association of sleep intertwined with medications, drugs, technologies, and the hard-fucking-work necessary to get my brain to go down.

And, once the sleep comes, am I lost in tax-law-complicated, mirrored puzzle box universes? Or will I just get some down time?

Usually the former. I long for more of the latter.

“Into the Arms of Morpheus” can imply both sleep and dreams, where dreams can also be nightmares. If one adds in opioids, there’s the additional meanings of sleep, death, and treating withdrawal effects.

P.S. Erowid Life Tip: For those with the same hyper-vigilant brain cycling: meditation is the art of not falling to sleep when the mind is at ‘rest’. Learning meditation techniques is super useful, but none of them are methodologies for putting the brain into unconsciousness.