Linda Vincent of Kula has spearheaded the International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) project on Maui to honor her son who died on August 12, 2019, of an accidental opioid overdose. The IOAD is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose. It is a day to remember without stigma those who have died and to acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. Millions of opioid painkiller prescriptions are still written annually and Americans are dying every day from overdoses.
Vincent first learned of IOAD when the Mayor of Honolulu sent to her family a picture of the government buildings lit with purple lights. “It was so touching to me as a way to honor my son and all of those who have died from this preventable disease,” Vincent said. “I previously organized this project in Rhinebeck, New York with great success. Now that I live on Maui, I plan to continue the work with Malama Family Recovery Center, Aloha House Makawao, and other non-profits.”
Jud Cunningham, CEO of Maui Behavioral Health Resources, the umbrella organization for the non-profits Aloha House, Malama Family Recovery Center and Maui Youth & Family Services, noted “We are working on preventing overdose through our efforts at treatments for substance use disorder and care for long-term recovery. Our agencies have programs in Makawao and throughout central Maui, which help adults and youth with mental health and substance use issues. We appreciate all support for this initiative.”
Wade Maede, Acting Maui Assistant Chief of Police, added, “On behalf of Chief John Pelletier and Deputy Chief Charles Hank III, the men and women of the Maui Police Department would like to acknowledge IOAD annually on August 31 and each day. Every year, community members lose loved ones to narcotic overdose. The Maui Police Department is committed to reducing the number of deaths by providing each officer with a Narcan kit. We will continue to educate the public on the dangers of opioids and other narcotics, so no family has to suffer losing a loved one again. Together, we can make a difference.”
Linda Vincent, IOAD volunteer
Over 25 Makawao merchants observed the first International Overdose Awareness Day. We hope in 2023 to go island- and state-wide. It’s time to remember and time to act.