Hospice of Frederick County, along with the Phoenix Foundation of Maryland, hosted an End the Stigma, End the Silence event in downtown Frederick on Saturday to shine a light on International Overdose Awareness Day.
The event, held at New Spire Stages, included a multitude of resources from local organizations and nonprofits as well as speeches from people in the community who represented “various points of the conversation” regarding addiction, prevention and recovery, according to Kaili van Waveren, bereavement coordinator for Hospice of Frederick County.
“This is a global event that aims to reduce the stigma and silence surrounding overdose death,” she said.
Some of the speeches were from Charlie Smith, Frederick County State’s Attorney, and Sarah Drennan, a representative from the Frederick County Health Department.
Drennan spoke about the different programs available through the health department as well as harm reduction practices. Smith who spoke of what’s happening in the community regarding opioid addiction and prevention and the impact it has.
“Simply put, overdose is preventable,” van Waveren said. “One of the reasons why this event is so important is because often when we talk about preventing overdose, we’re talking about it from an abstinence-based perspective. That’s not necessarily the most effective way to be viewing this.”
Hospice of Frederick County offers grief support, one-on-one counseling and support groups for free.
It also just relaunched it’s overdose support program, through a state grant, where it will be running new support groups starting in September, she said. Through the relaunch, the non-profit is also looking to work with different organizations in the county to provide further support for people in the community.
Clifford Croker, a Rockville resident who struggles with addiction, came to the event to learn about prevention and recovery.
“I needed to figure out something to do to get out of my head and get into some recovery,” Croker said.
By attending the event, he learned about available options for intensive outpatient therapy as well as grief support.
“What I’m really interested in is telling my story and journaling through grief,” he said, explaining he would like to write letters to his daughter who moved away. “I’m trying to focus on how to write for one kid in the letter, not pertaining to anyone else’s, just from dad to that kid.
“It’s cool,” he added. “I learned something.”
He believes everyone in the community should know about the available resources because too many people die from overdose.
“There’s a completely better way of life available that everyone is capable of,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any way to do it except for you to just learn how you do it personally for yourself.”
He also hates the saying that prevention and recovery is the best kept secret.
“This stuff is infectious and it needs to get out there,” he said. “People need to start getting involved with this before they have to, to save their lives.”
For more information on overdose support groups, visit Hospice of Frederick County at 516 Trail Ave., Frederick, or go to hospiceoffrederick.org.