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Hamilton Co. Coalition Raised IOAD Awareness with "Words Matter" & "The Purple Sand Challenge"


The Hamilton County Coalition used social media challenges and interactive events to raise awareness for International Overdose Awareness Day 2020.

The first social media challenge was the "Words Matter" pledge to end the stigma around addiction and substance abuse. We challenged the public and other prevention coalitions to:
- not use words/labels that are stigmatized like "addict" "junkie" "abuser" or "crackhead".
- Encourage others to use non-stigmatized language and to understand the impacts of stigma on individuals and families impacted by substance abuse.
- Use language that is compassionate and respectful when discussing addiction or someone who uses substances.
-Think of the person as a person, and not define them by their illness.

The second social media challenge was the Purple Sand Challenge, inspired by the Red Sand Project that honors victims of human trafficking. Each grain of the purple sand - the official color of International Overdose Awareness Day - represents one of the millions of men and women around the world that have unfortunately been lost to overdose.

The Hamilton County Coalition passed out bags of purple sand to our partners and the public at local events throughout Chattanooga. We then challenged them to fill in the gaps of sidewalks with the purple sand and post it to social media to raise awareness for International Overdose Awareness Day.

The youth group at the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul took this challenge to the next level as they dedicated an entire evening session to learn more about the dangers of substance abuse and overdose, and spread purple sand around the church's sidewalk to honor overdose victims.