Purple flags along Pratt Avenue in Huntsville represent lives lost to drug overdoses

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A line of purple flags line the grassy area outside of 225 Pratt Avenue. The nonprofit Not One More Alabama set up the display to represent the estimated 1,009 Alabamians who died from drug overdoses in 2020.

August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day, and Not One More Alabama is hoping to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction.

“Families are so afraid to seek help when they have a loved one that’s struggling with addiction,” said Marcie Lewis, a volunteer with the nonprofit who knows the toll that addiction can take all too well. Lewis lost her sister, Samantha, to an overdose in 2019. She says while her sister was battling addiction, the family was afraid to talk about the struggles they were facing.

“People were shocked that that’s something we had been dealing with. A lot of people reached out and said they had no clue she was struggling. That’s because we were afraid to put that out there. If she had cancer or some other disease, we would have been asking for thoughts and prayers and resources and stuff like that,” Lewis said.

On Tuesday, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams joined leaders from the Jefferson County Department of Health in a virtual discussion about International Overdose Awareness Day. Adams stressed the importance of talking about both mental health and substance misuse.

“Whether it’s at the dinner table, at the lunch or board room table, at church or at school, we should all have a conversation about how to better prevent, recognize, and treat substance misuse issues,” Adams said.

Not One More Alabama has resources for families of people who are battling addictions, and they can connect patients with treatment resources. On September 17th, they will hold their annual End Addiction HSV Walk. You can find more information on their website.

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