Dana Sousares

7 Things to Know About Preventing a Leading Cause of Death in the US

Overdose is classified by the Centers for Disease Control as a national epidemic, surpassing even motor vehicle accidents to become the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., with 41,340 overdose deaths in 2011. Each day, 113 people die from overdose in this country.

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Miraculous, Over-the-Counter, Overdose Protection Drug Coming to California Pharmacies

In hushed tones, Janice (not her real name) slipped a desperate woman a blue-zippered pouch containing a vial of naloxone and two syringes. The scene played out like something illicit because, in Janice’s Southern red state, it is. Despite the risks involved with distributing a medication without a prescription, Janice, a Florida-based overdose prevention advocate, continues to do so because she knows it saves lives. Florida, like many other states, has no law allowing for the distribution of naloxone.

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What Mothers are Doing to Help their Drug Dependent Kids this Mother’s Day

For the past 6 years Mother’s Day has been a day of dread for me.  Instead of being pregnant with gratitude and joy, this particularSunday in May has been laced with apron strings of fear, shame, grief and regret.  I have tried to force amnesia and pretend it’s just another Sunday, but I can’t help wonder if my son will call.  If he does, it’s a bittersweet and painful conversation, if he doesn’t call, I worry that he has overdosed and died on a park bench or in a shady motel. 

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Why I Cringe When My Son Calls Himself a Junkie

My son calls himself a junkie and I cringe.  And why do I do that, when that is how he self identifies?  Because he has internalized the stigma that we have assigned to his disease. Because the image that the term “junkie” conjures up is one of societal disgust—filth, danger, dishonesty, laziness, moral ineptitude.  We tend to think of “junkies” with a sense of “otherness.”  We tell ourselves that only happens in someone else’s family, that person must have come from a horrid background, etc.  And yet despite my son’s gentle nature, and despite his battles at such a young age—battles that even a fully matured adult with a plethora of coping skills would be more than hard-pressed to face—where stereotypes abound, there is no denying that I am the mother of someone many would call a stereotypical "street junkie."

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Mother's Powerful Tale: Despite My Son's Heroin Addiction, I Held Biases About Drug Addicts

I recognized the number. My son was calling from the ER, barely coherent, having overdosed on heroin yet again. The paramedics had just happened upon him as they were resuscitating another overdose victim in the park. Apparently, the batch of heroin on the street was especially potent and a rash of overdose victims had arrived in the ER that day. My son had suffered an even closer brush with death than I had previously witnessed. This time he had slipped past respiratory arrest and into cardiovascular collapse. If it weren’t for the unfortunate happenstance of another person overdosing in the same park, he surely would have died this time.

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Happy Holidays!