NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Aug. 31, people around the world will gather to remember people who have died from a drug overdose.
Events for International Overdose Awareness Day are being held in several different cities, including Nashville.
News 2 spoke to two overdose survivors who now share their story to try to prevent others from making the same mistakes.
“I came from a good family, sports player growing up,” said Evan Radtke.
Radtke is a typical All-American young man, but five years ago, he became a parent’s worst statistic. He suffered from an overdose on Xanax and heroin.
“You shoot up and then all of a sudden, my head hit the table, gashed, fell out, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up about 25 minutes later,” he told News 2.
Now, at Addiction Campuses in Nashville, he is working to lower the startling numbers and break the stigma attached to those suffering from an addiction.
Addiction Campuses is hosting a free event on Aug. 31 at the Parthenon to remember the 120 people who die every day from a drug overdose.
“Every person I talk with knows somebody, has somebody in their family, somebody is affected by addiction,” said Radtke.
Not only is the Parthenon a Nashville landmark with enough space to host the event, it also represents strength. The Parthenon symbolized strength in Greek mythology. Many overdose survivors depend on strength to make it through each day.
Brian Sullivan, Director of Public Relations and an overdose survivor himself, is glad to see so many people coming together to remember those who did not walk away from their overdose.
“My overdose was not associated with addiction. My overdose was an attempted suicide,” explained Sullivan.
According to a world drug report done by the United Nations, a quarter of all drug-related deaths in the world happen in our country. Most of those are fueled by the opioid crisis sweeping the nation.
“We are a nation that is hurting and we are a nation, by many standards, that does not have coping skills,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan hopes coming together in large numbers around the world will send a message to everyone struggling or dealing with an overdose.
“Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful that I got to see today,” said Sullivan.
Now, these two will continue to spread their message of hope to anyone who is hurting today.
“A little bit becomes a lot. No one plans when they are little to become a heroin addict or a junkie,” Radtke told News 2.
The “Night of Remembrance” starts at 5 p.m. on Aug. 31. Key speakers include John Mabry, former Three Doors Down Bass player Todd Harrell, Leah Festa with the Prevention Alliance of Tennessee, and more.
The event is free to the public and should last about a hour.