A peaceful protest has been held in Aberdeen as global events marking International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) come to a close.
Campaigners gathered in matching purple t-shirts outside Marischal College this evening, as the historic granite building was bathed in spotlights of the same colour.
IOAD was started as a way to offer people a time to remember those who have died or are dependent on drugs or alcohol, and acknowledge the grief their friends and family have felt.
The event also coincided with the end of a month-long anti-stigma campaign by Community Planning Aberdeen, highlighting how prejudice can affect people’s lives.
This can include judgement of people with mental health difficulties, who are in recovery or living in poverty.
Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said: “The impact of stigma on individuals can be profound, people feel marginalised and reluctant to seek advice and support.
“Through engaging with those who are or have experienced stigma we can educate ourselves and raise awareness, challenge stigmatising language and promote inclusiveness.”
Importance of compassion
Dermot Craig from Aberdeen In Recovery, said International Overdose Awareness Day can provide an opportunity for people to reflect on their thoughts and behaviour.
This means, rather than focusing on an initial knee-jerk reaction to someone in a specific situation, we take the time to consider our actions.
He wants people to “actively look to think beyond our initial, sometimes prejudiced, first thought and take responsibility of the second.
“And think of the human being behind the addictive behaviour, substance use and/or mental health struggles with compassion – rather than misunderstanding.”
Colin Stewart from Our Positive Voice (Grampian) said: “Having been diagnosed HIV+ in 1996, I have experienced stigma from many sources over the years.
“I know the detrimental effect it can have on your wellbeing.
“It is sad that stigma is still happening today, but it is very encouraging that Aberdeen has been running this campaign to inform people about HIV and the damage that stigma does.”