EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) – International Overdose Awareness Day is when people stop and reflect on those they have lost due to drug overdose.

“As someone who has survived overdoses in the past, and known a lot of people who haven’t. I think it’s really important to look at a day like today and realize addiction is a disease, even if it doesn’t always look like that to the outside world,” says Zac Seif, who now works for Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare in Evansville.

According to the Center for Disease control, more than 100,000 people lost their lives in 2022 due to a drug overdose. This statistic is why Nate Boyett of Boyett Treatment Center says International Overdose Awareness Day is so important.

“It’s a good opportunity to put the spotlight on people that have overdosed, and the families that are still being affected by it, still reeling from it years later. So, I think I brings a lot of that into focus, because most people don’t think about it unless it happens to them,” says Boyett.

Some people are lucky enough to have experienced an overdose and made it out the other side. For Seif, his experiences with overdoses have motivated him to work with others battling substance abuse.

“Getting to be on the other isle of that, it’s both surreal and really cool to just get to interact with them. To be on the front lines too, because it’s scary now. With fentanyl, the overdoses seem to be happening more frequently now than when I was in active addiction,” says Seif.

Boyett says eliminating the stigma of addiction also helps save lives by publicly encouraging the use of Narcan to reverse opioid overdose.

“I think it’s really important to kind of normalize it in society…People carrying it around is just a normal thing, just like carrying around some mace in your purse, you know what I mean? It’s just good to have. Something you hope you’ll never have to use, but it’s good to have it just in case,” says Boyett.

As people gather tonight at the Four Freedoms Monument in Evansville for a vigil to pay their respects to those they lost, it is important to remember that addiction can affect anyone – from all walks of life. Those struggling with it shouldn’t be afraid to get the help they need.

“Being somebody that has been through it and is on the other side, I know recovery is possible. I’m not unique in that regard, I’m in a fellowship here locally where we get to see a lot of people get there lives back, so (if you’re dealing with addiction), I would just ask for help and go to treatment if you need it,” says Seif.