Broken No More / GRASP and Partner Organizations Host Events Across the United States to Commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day.

Grieving Parents Memorialize Lost Loved Ones, Celebrate Advances in Overdose Prevention and Call for Further Change.

GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing)/ Broken No More and partnering organizations will convene rallies, vigils and overdose prevention trainings across the United States in commemoration of International Overdose Awareness Day. From California to Vermont, parents and loved ones of those affected by or lost to overdose are coming together to increase awareness of the overdose epidemic in the United States and to promote measures to effectively prevent such tragic losses.

Heroin overdoses have quadrupled in the last decade and deaths due to drug overdose have more than doubled since 1999 making drug overdose the leading cause of injury death in the United States with rates that surpass even motor vehicle accidents. “One hundred twenty people are dying every day across the U.S. to drug overdose. We’re losing an entire generation of people and it doesn’t matter if you have money, what color you are, or how much education you have” said Denise Cullen, executive director of GRASP and Broken No More.

GRASP was founded to provide sources of help, support and compassion for families or individuals who have had a loved one die as a result of substance use or addiction. With 100 chapters across the United States and Canada, GRASP provides compassionate support to more than 2500 members affected by a substance related death.

Many GRASP members, including Cullen, are parents who share in the tragic and unique challenges of grieving the loss of a child to overdose. Cullen describes the loss of her son Jeff in 2008 in this video produced for Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s a very different thing to lose your child than to lose a parent, a partner or any other relationship. I’ve lost all those things and it’s nothing compared to this, especially after you fight with them for so long, you struggle with them and you have hopes that things are going to be okay. So when this happens, there are no more choices, no more chances, no more hope.”

Cullen and other parents across the country are joining together and transforming their grief into activism to prevent others from having to suffer such tragic losses. International Overdose Awareness Day provides an opportunity for families to memorialize lost loved ones and to advocate for change. Broken No More and partnering organizations such as A New PATH and Moms United to End the War on Drugs are promoting efforts to end the stigma of addictive illness and championing drug policy reform rooted in evidence, compassion and dignity.

According to this CDC report, these parents’ efforts, along with those of drug policy reformers and harm reduction activists, have been rewarded with success. Since 2010, there has been a 90 percent increase (from 16 to 30) in states with at least one organization distributing naloxone (the medication that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose). The previous five years have also seen a reported 187 percent increase in the number of laypersons provided naloxone kits, which has resulted in a 160 percent increase in the number of reported overdose reversals.

Several states have passed laws allowing pharmacies to distribute naloxone and the overdose antidote is also now being distributed by some primary care clinics, emergency rooms and drug treatment centers. While this progress is remarkable and inspires hope, there is work yet to be done.

According to the aforementioned report, despite the successes, 50 percent of responding organizations cited a lack of resources to sustain or increase naloxone distribution sufficiently to meet community needs. And while 82.8 percent of laypersons who reported successfully using naloxone to reverse an overdose were characterized as ‘people who use drugs,’ much of the federal and community overdose prevention funding has been reserved primarily to equip first responders, such as police and firefighters, with this life saving medication. While it is advantageous for first responders to carry naloxone, expanding distribution where it is most needed and most effective-namely into the hands of drug users and their loved ones-is a priority for those campaigning for an end to the overdose epidemic.

International Overdose Awareness Day, started by the Salvation Army in Australia in 2001, is an opportunity for people around the world to publicly mourn loved ones without guilt or shame. Many participating countries also use this day to send a strong message to current and former drug users that their lives are valued and that no one should ever die from a preventable fatal drug overdose.

Watch the video and learn more about GRASP/ Broken No More’s advocacy efforts here.

The public is invited to attend the events listed below. To learn more about GRASP visit

GRASP/ Broken No More & Partners 2015 International Overdose Awareness Day Events. August 29-31.

Huntington Beach, CA

Date:  Sunday, August 30th
Time:  5:00pm – 7:00pm
Location: Huntington Beach Pier
Contact: Denise Cullen 714-602-8616
Gretchen Burns Bergman 619-670-1184

Denver, CO

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  2:00pm – 5:00pm
Location:  231 E Colfax

Newark, DE

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time: 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Location: Rte 896 and Main Street
Old University of Delaware Campus

Englewood, FL

Date: Sunday, August 30th
Time: 11:00am
Location: Ricaltini’s Bar and Grille
1997  Kentucky Ave

Davenport, IA / Rock Island, IL

Quad Cities Overdose Awareness Walk
Date:  Saturday, August 29th
Time:  8:00am
Location:  Lafayette Park/Schweibert Park

Carpentersville, IL

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  3:00pm – 5:30pm
Location:  Village Hall/ Police Station

Chicago, IL

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  1:00pm – 3:00pm
Location:  Federal Plaza
230 South Dearborn Street

Ottowa, IL

Date:  Saturday, August 29th
Time:  10:00am
Location:  Washington Park Historic District

Gardner, MA

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  7:00pm – 9:00pm
Location:  Monument Park

Townson, MD

Date:  Sunday, August 30th
Time: 7:00pm
Location:  Towson Courthouse Fountain Square

Philadelphia, PA

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  8:00pm
Location:  Lion’s Park, Fox Chase
7900 Oxford Ave.

Wilkes-Barre, PA

Date:  Sunday, August 30th
Time:  3:00pm – 6:00pm
Location:  Kirby Park

Austin, TX

Date: Sunday, August 30th
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Location:  Steps of the State Capitol Building
Contact: Mark Kinzly at  860-724-5339

Berryville, VA

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  4:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: Rose Hill Park & Gazebo East Main Street
Contact:  Lisa Wilkins: 540-313-2484

Roanoke, VA

Date:  Sunday, August 30th
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Garst Mill Park

Berlin, VT

Date:  Monday, August 31st
Time:  6:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: 445 Industrial Lane

Contact: Denise Cullen | 714-865-7879 |