A Personal Story / What Overdose Awareness Means to Me

While the overdose crisis has become a nationwide problem, the impact is personal.

One year ago, on August 31, 2022, Heather Spurlock-Venters, who now works as a peer support specialist at ARC’s Crown Recovery Center in Springfield, Kentucky, lost her brother-in-law, Sean Riley, to a drug overdose.

Although Heather is now in recovery, she and Sean both had a history of substance use. She was early in her recovery journey when she received the tragic news that he had overdosed.

“When you’re in active addiction, you think you’re bulletproof and that nothing like that can happen to you. It never crossed my mind that one day one of us wasn’t going to be here,” said Heather. “He passed away that day not only because he used but used alone. He didn’t have anyone there to help him or try to bring him back. That’s what we do as people in recovery. We reach back for the ones still suffering because we know what it is like to suffer. I don’t want anyone else to ever go through that – not if I can help it.”

Despite the hardship and guilt that came with losing Sean, Heather still believes in the good that can come from sharing his story.

Quick Facts

“Substance use is a dangerous and deadly disease, but treatment is available and recovery is possible,” said Matt Brown, president of ARC Healthcare. “We remain committed to doing everything we can to reduce overdoses in Kentucky and educate people on the many pathways to recovery.”

Naloxone (Narcan), which reverses the effects of an overdose, is one of the life-saving tools ARC has to protect against drug-related deaths. In the last year, ARC has trained more than 800 employees on how to use Narcan with a goal of significantly reducing overdose fatalities.

While today is Overdose Awareness Day, tomorrow will mark the beginning of National Recovery Month – a time to celebrate those who have come through addiction and returned to healthy, meaningful lives.

“Substance use can be a death sentence, but it doesn’t have to be. Treatment is available today,” added Matt Brown, president of ARC Healthcare.

For resources on overdose prevention, please visit arccenters.com/family-and-friends/overdose-prevention.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use, please contact ARC’s 24/7 intake line at (888) 351-1761 or visit arccenters.com.