Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

International Overdose Awareness Day

Our News in Brief

International Overdose Awareness Day

1st September 2020
Monday 31st August marked International Overdose Awareness Day. It’s a global event that aims to reduce stigma, raise awareness and spread the message that deaths caused by overdose can be prevented.

To mark the day, staff at Caritas Anchor House welcomed Simon Aalders from Open Road for a lunch and learn session. He talked about the signs and symptoms of an overdose, what to do to help and how support for those at risk of overdose has changed in the past few years. The session was full of practical tips, and Simon also answered questions from staff who wanted to know more.

Jackie Stephenson was one of the Cartias Anchor House staff who attended the session. “The training has given me much more confidence to know what to do if someone has overdosed,” she said. “Simon taught us the signs to look for, how to put someone in the recovery position and how to clear someone’s airway. I hope it’s never something I’ll have to do, but I feel far more confident that I’d be able to help.”

For some of our residents, overdose is a very personal part of their story. Before moving into Caritas Anchor House, Tom* was living in a flatshare with a friend who had lost his job and was claiming benefits. When Tom became too ill to work, he discovered that his flatmate had told the JobCentre that he was living alone. As a result, Tom was unable to access the benefits he needed. This was devastating for him as his former employer had also failed to pay him thousands of pounds. Tom became seriously depressed and overdosed on his medication.

Being at Caritas Anchor House has helped Tom to make a fresh start. “It’s a very caring environment,” he says. “It’s fantastic having that base where you can take time to rebuild things.”  During lockdown, Tom has kept busy by volunteering as a COVID health champion for the council and by helping out at his church. He’s worked closely with his key worker to manage his wellbeing and hopes to start psychological treatment soon.

Caritas Anchor House has a close relationship with local drug and alcohol agencies to support residents who may be at risk of overdose. Before the lockdown, AA and NA meetings were held on site to provide a safe space for addressing drug and alcohol misuse. Key workers are trained to support residents to overcome addiction and help them on the journey to recovery. Just like Tom, we want to help our residents rebuild their lives so that overdose never has to be a part of their future.

If you think someone has overdosed, knowing how to respond is crucial. Action taken as soon as possible could save a life. You can read more about the signs of overdose and how to respond here, but our two top tips are:

  • Check for vital signs - are they alert/responding to voice? Is their breathing shallow, slow, noisy or stopped? Have their lips or fingertips gone blue/grey?
  • Call an ambulance, tell the operator your location and stay on the line.

*name changed to protect residents identity

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