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International Overdose Day: 31 August

“I felt her body next to mine; she was cold. I tried to wake her, felt for a pulse, nothing. I carried her to the shower and tried to revive her. I did CPR but it was too late. Four years later, the scene still replays clearly in my mind. Such a waste of somebody with so much talent. I would trade places with her if I could.”

These words, by a former patient of Sanca Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Johannesburg, capture the devastation of losing someone you love to an overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day, held on 31 August each year, gives people a chance to remember those who passed on due to an overdose of either a licit or an illicit substance.

Worldwide, people are encouraged to show their support by wearing a purple or silver ribbon.

Wedge Gardens commemorated the day by inviting the men undergoing rehab at the centre to light a candle in memory of someone they have lost.

“We are here today to commemorate all those who lost their lives, accidentally or otherwise, as a result of overdose,” said Adèl Grobbelaar, who heads up Wedge Gardens.

“Every overdose is a loss; those ignorant enough to say they deserved it have absolutely no understanding of the epidemic we are fighting. With every overdose, someone loses a son, daughter, friend or loved one. Nobody has the right to judge.

“My wish for you is that you will never feel that hopeless, that overdose appears the only way out. Remember we are here for you and we care.”

International Overdose Day aims to:

Raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

Acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends in remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Spread the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

* For help with addiction recovery, contact Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg. Visit or phone 010 534 6596.

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