Balloons are usually a symbol of parties, fun, and joy. But, people also use balloons to symbolize very different things.
March 6 is Black Balloon Day. Every year, people use black balloons to raise awareness about opioid addiction and overdoses.
There are many people to remember. Opioid overdoses killed more than 47,000 U.S. residents in 2017 alone, while overdoses from all drugs caused about 72,000 deaths that year. About 1.7 million people in the country misused prescription opioids and another 652,000 misused the opioid drug heroin in 2017.
Sadly, these statistics are part of an ongoing trend that may continue. If things do not change, estimates claim that opioid abuse may kill almost 500,000 people in that next decade.
Thousands of people, then, have died preventable deaths. They’re preventable because addiction is a disease that people can treat. It’s a chronic condition that may not have a definitive cure, but it’s a condition that people can manage with the proper assistance.
A big part of this assistance is talking about addiction and overdoses. That’s where Black Balloon Day may be so helpful.
Black Balloon Day makes abstract topics more concrete. People may hear about addiction and overdoses and even be upset about them, but those topics may only be thoughts to them.
They’re more than thoughts on Black Balloon Day, where each black balloon represents a life lost to heroin, fentanyl, or other opioid. Behind every black balloon are the relatives and friends of that life lost.
If you attend a Black Balloon Day event, you may meet these loved ones. You may meet the parents of children who died due to an opioid addiction. The parents may discuss their children and their struggles. They give addiction a human face. They show that it’s a disease that reaches everyone.
How can we stigmatize addiction if it’s this common, if it can touch everybody? It’s harder to stigmatize people and things we know and like. Black Balloon Day provides potent, tangible symbols to humanize a huge problem. It helps us discuss issues and understand people better.