Kat B. was awakened before sunrise by loud pounding on her front door, the knock that changed her life forever. It was her distraught mother bewailing the untimely death of Kat's brother.

How does death by overdose affect the family?

"I felt numb with strong feelings of sadness and anger," Kat lamented.

Her brother was not only her blood, he was her best friend.

"What made it worse were the mixed feelings raging inside of me," she said.

Death by overdose is loaded with stigmas, in addition to shame and guilt in the families. International Overdose Day on August 31 acknowledges that intense sorrow and pain.

"This year, we're focusing on the siblings who continue to struggle with having to deal with addicted family members," said Connie Rocha-Mimoso, Seven Hills Program Director of Community Human Services. "A great way to support the siblings who've seen their loved ones slowly die in front of them, is to join us on the steps of City Hall at 5 p.m. Wednesday."

Kat will be just one of the speakers to give a sister's perspective of having two brothers who were addicted.

"I've never really talked about it before," she said. "After being there for Caleb for years, I finally had all I could take with his broken promises, and the week before he passed, I told him that I'm not doing this anymore; but now, I look back and I regret it so much because the next week we got a call to come down and identify his body."

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International Overdose Day was initiated in 2001 at a Salvation Army in Melbourne, Australia, and has grown into a global event ever since. The New Bedford gathering will feature a division of over 20 local services available for anyone who wants help to quit. Beds will be available for those who wanted to rehab, but couldn't find a bed.

"Our purpose is to raise awareness of local overdoses, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and recognize the grief felt by siblings and family members," Rocha-Mimoso said.

This coming together begins with you. Listen to family members share their stories, because when all is said and done, it takes a community to heal a community.


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