By Madalyn Watson | Reporter
In honor of International Overdose Awareness day this past Friday, Baylor’s Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) held a memorial for those who lost their lives to overdoses.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., student volunteers and staff members at the BARC sat outside in the hot sun handing bracelets, pins, water and popsicles out to anyone who was interested.
“The idea of the event is to give people that space for reflection and to prevent it from happening in the future,” said Lilly Ettinger, assistant director of wellness and recovery at the BARC.
Outside the BARC, there was a dry erase board for students to memorialize their loved ones and for statistics and information on the signs of overdose.
“We can help remember and honor those who have overdosed,” said Stanton Corley, recovery support coordinator at the BARC said. “We decided it would be pretty cool to write their names on our wall and provide the opportunity for students to come by and if [students] have been impacted by someone overdosing to write their names on the wall.”
In addition to being a day of remembrance, International Overdose Awareness day educated students on addiction aand what the BARC can do to help them.
“Anybody who is in recovery, seeking recovery, pursuing recovery or considering recovery from any addiction disorder — porn, sex, eating disorders, gambling, self-harm, they all belong,” Ettinger said. “Anybody who has a family member or friend who has struggled with addiction. Anybody who is sober for any reason and wants to be part of a sober community, they belong.”
The BARC offers many resources and events to students, such as Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, prayer sessions, yoga lessons and a like-minded community.
“The BARC is a place for whatever kind of recovery or help that you need,” said Candace Allen, ministry associate at the BARC and a graduate student from George W. Truett Theological Seminary. “Even though we are an addiction and recovery center, it’s really just another support for students.”
Allen works with students at the BARC in more than just a religious sense. She saiid she believes that faith does not have to be a part of recovery, but it can be a tool that some students can rely on.
“When I started working here, I would tell people that wellness is about not only the physical and the emotional, the mental and the spiritual health of a person,” Allen said.
Volunteers from Angel Paws were at the BARC, accompanied by Roediger, the seven-year-old Shih-Tzu, and Tara, the seven-year-old Australian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees. Students walking by the BARC came in to meet and pet the dogs.
“I brought [my] great dane up here to work last week and what happened was throughout the day probably over twenty people were in my office,” Corley said. “What it created was this space where people just want to pet dogs. It’s fascinating.”
International Overdose Awareness Day aims to change the stigma associated with drug-related death.
“In the state of Texas, it’s not mandatory for a medical examiner to view the deaths. In many counties, like ours, often times if a overdose is suspected, the judge who signs the death certificate will not request any form of investigation, so the death does not get properly categorized as an overdose death,” Ettinger said.
Ettinger explained why the stigma associated with alcohol and drug addictions stems from the words we use to describe them.
“We have changed the language about alcohol and drug use and misuse. The AP style book changed last year, they no longer use the word abuse. I’m a huge fan of that. Because we don’t call eating disorders, food abuse. We don’t call gambling disorders, luck abuse” Ettinger said. “Diagnostically we changed changed the language, but we never did a good job in terms of calling people out.”
Corley said he believes that once this stigma surrounding drug addiction changes then asking for help will be seen as courageous and more people will seek treatment.
“A key to unlocking the floodgates for students to come and get help is reducing stigma related to substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder,” Corley said. “Over 90 percent of college students who suffer from substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder never reach out for help. Why is that? I think it’s primarily because of stigma.”
If a student or their loved one is struggling with addiction, the BARC accepts walk-ins to discuss recovery. There is also an option to set up an appointment on their website.