Remembering lives lost to drug addiction on Overdose Awareness Day

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 7:40 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. A day set to remember the lives lost to overdose and celebrate those in recovery.

People in the Toledo area gathered to commemorate the day and raise awareness for opioid addiction.

One Toledo woman knows the struggle of addiction all too well. Cassandra Beltran describes the moment her life changed back in August of 2017.

“I woke up and there were cops around me. The only thing I can remember is the horrific scream of my son,” said Beltran. “They were like, ‘What’s your name, do you remember your name?’ and I’m just like, ‘My son, my son, where’s my son?’”

Her son was just 16 months old at the time. Beltran was then taken to the hospital.

“When I went to leave the cops were there, and they said you had fentanyl, needles, all the paraphernalia, and everything was around my son. They said if you leave right now we’re taking you to jail and I had never been to jail and they arrested me,” said Beltran.

She has struggled with drug addiction for years. She’s also lost loved ones to opioid overdoses. Beltran has been clean now for just over one month, and this time she is determined to stay clean for her son.

“When you get in a ring with Mike Tyson, you’re going to get beat up every time,” said Beltran. So every time I was getting in the ring with the drugs they were beating me up every time. So I had to surrender, I had to throw in the gloves, throw in the towel and just be like I can’t do it. I can’t win with the drugs.”

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department says addiction and overdose are huge problems in Lucas County, and fentanyl is one of the biggest factors.

“Last year was actually the first year that Lucas County did see a decrease in overdoses. We saw about a seven percent decrease, but we still lost 276 individuals,” said Mahjida Steffin, the Overdose Prevention and Harm Reduction Supervisor for the health department. “That’s such a startling number that we know that we still have so much work to do.”

Steffin said they are working on harm reduction and overdose prevention by distributing Narcan to the community and educating drug users on how to stay safe.

“The best thing you can do is never use alone, always carry Narcan and if you can, test your drugs.”

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