It was an evening of remembrance on the Schoolhouse Green as members of the Oceanside community gathered on International Overdose Awareness day Sept. 1 to commemorate those who have lost their lives to drug addiction.
Dee’s Nursery & Florist provided purple flowers, which were planted by Oceanside Community Warriors to commemorate the lives lost to overdose. This was the first official event for Overdose Awareness Day led by the Oceanside Safe Coalition, whose mission is preventing drug and alcohol use among young people and thus creating a drug-free community.
Oceanside has been deeply affected by loss from overdoses, particularly among young people. This brought about the formation of the Oceanside Safe Coalition. Oceanside Library Trustee and Oceanside Safe member Janet Pearsall spoke on how the effects of overdosing in the community led to Oceanside Safe. “Sadly, there was a rather long string of overdosing in young people, not only overdosing but fatally overdosing,” Pearsall said. “Primarily, that was the beginning of the big opioid epidemic, and from that sprung out Oceanside Safe and then all the opioid training.”
The project coordinator for the Oceanside Safe Coalition, Alison Eriksen, spoke more about the formation of Oceanside Safe. “We put together the Oceanside Safe Coalition in 2015, and it was in response to a slew of overdoses in our younger population, many of whom I graduated high school with,’’ Eriksen said. “Over the last 10 years alone, we’ve lost about 15 people that we went to school with. We kept hearing about someone losing their life, with what felt like almost once a week. We came together as a community; we figured we had to do something and formed our coalition.”
Eriksen continued, “Addiction is deep-rooted, and that is the message that we’re trying to put out there. We’re geared towards education and prevention. We put together environmental strategies trying to involve the whole community.”