Craig holds International Overdose Awareness Day event to humanize addiction issues |

Craig holds International Overdose Awareness Day event to humanize addiction issues

Members of the Health Partnership for Northwest Colorado leadership team pose for a photo with recovery team supervisor Erik Plate at far right. The group was assembled for a picnic recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day at City Park in Craig Tuesday.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Substance addiction — even overdose — doesn’t have to be the end.

That’s the message a group in Craig is trying to spread as part of its effort to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day, which was Tuesday.

“An overdose doesn’t mean it’s the end,” said Erik Plate, recovery team supervisor for The Health Partnership, serving Northwest Colorado. “Everybody’s got their overdose story, and we do recover.”

Obviously, an overdose can be fatal — Plate constructed a memorial this past week in front of the Center of Craig on Yampa Ave recognizing the 24 lives lost in Moffat County to overdose over the past decade. But interventions are increasingly effective in saving the lives of overdose victims.

“These are not random people,” Plate said. “These are neighbors, they’re friends, coworkers, colleagues. It’s your aunt or uncle, your family. It’s incredibly important to understand it can affect anybody, not just the downtrodden or the poor.”

Once the issue is humanized, the next step is oftentimes the most challenging: to get help, Plate said.

“It’s not weak to ask for help,” he said. “I think a big problem, not just here, but throughout the country, is people have a hard time asking for help. Those three hardest words: I need help. I have trouble saying that even now. There’s a fear of being judged, and especially in a small community — your best friend has a substance use disorder and is using and he’s now the black sheep of the community. A lot of people are blissfully ignorant, or try to be. And what’s important is bringing it all to light. It’s not weak to ask for help; it shows more strength, actually.”

Tuesday, a sober picnic was held in the afternoon at City Park in Craig to acknowledge the international day.

“Today is about normalizing this,” Plate said. “This happens in every community, in every state and in almost every country. It’s a normal thing that happens — and we want it to stop.

“You know, this is my home, our home, we grew up here,” he said. “If we can establish a community and events here that allow us to go have fun and not drink, it’s better.”

The Longevity Project to dig deeper on mental health

The Craig Press is holding an event titled The Longevity Project in which a panel and keynote speaker will address local and national mental health issues. The event is $10 to enter, Wednesday, September 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come learn more with us about this critical issue.

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