SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Across San Diego Thursday, people recovering from addiction and family members who have lost someone to overdoses will honor their loved ones, while calling for change.
It's International Overdose Awareness Day.
In the US, 52,000 people died from overdoses in 2015. That's one person every 10 minutes.
Sandy Nolan lost her son to a heroin overdose.
"I found out when the medical examiner came to the front door," she told 10News.
Nolan is one of the organizers of the HOPE2Gether Foundation. It's acronym stands for Heroin Opiate Prescription Education. The goal is to teach people that addiction is a disease to be treated, not a crime to punish.
"You just can't do anything unless we erase that stigma. That's the first step," says Nolan.
HOPE2Gether doesn't have any events planned for International Overdose Awareness Day, but several other groups in San Diego do.
A New Path and Mom's United will stage a die-in at the downtown courthouse. They plan to gather in front of the steps at 11 am and have people lie down for 10 minutes, while others read names of loved ones lost to addiction.
"It's a very visual example of people dying unnecessarily," says Gretchen Burns Bergman, the group's organizer.
The three San Diego County chapters of GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) will hold a candle light vigil Thursday night. It's at 6:30 pm on the Oceanside Pier.
Organizers of all the events say it's important for the public to realize addiction is a serious problem, and help is available.
"We're at the point now where many people from all walks of life are talking about it and are celebrating recovery," says Bergman. "You can hate this disease, just hate it. But don't hate your child."
More information about International Overdose Awareness Day can be found here.
For statistics and information on the drug and addiction problem world wide, see the UN Drug Report from 2017.