A Message to Our Members After the Death of Michael K. Williams

Dear anyone using substances or their loved ones,

First and foremost, we want you to know that we love you no matter what, and your life has unmeasurable value. Conversations like this used to be shunned because they were viewed as a form of enabling or giving somebody permission to use drugs. We know too much now to continue with that belief when conversations like this might be the only thing that saves your life or that of someone you love. We implore you to be brave and know that we would not put anyone’s recovery at risk.  

Unfortunately, we all know too well that recovery is a process and not an event, and that proves this can take time. Time is no longer a benefit to people who use drugs as we see the death rates continue to rise. Please understand we are not saying this from any type of fear-based platform, but we are just saying this to anyone reading this letter. There will be more than 200 lives lost today from an accidental overdose, and there are four easy rules to follow which would eliminate every single death. 

One of our cofounders touched on this in an article from VICE Magazine discussing the death of actor Michael K. Williams. Like so many others, Michael died because he used alone and felt ashamed of having substance use disorder. No one should be ashamed of themselves or a loved one for having a mental illness. The only shame is not sharing this information. All of us at Sana Lake want to show you that it is okay to have this conversation and make sure that anyone at risk for an overdose has this information. 

Those four rules are:

  1. Never use alone. This was previously impossible to adhere to, but we now have an 800 number available that allows someone to call in while they are using. If the person becomes unresponsive, 911 will be called to their location.
  2. Always carry naloxone. Naloxone is free throughout Missouri through a federal grant, and you find the closest location at www.nomodeaths.org. There is a similar service on a national level that will mail it to you at www.nextdistro.org.
  3. Understand the risk factors, such as reduced tolerance and that combining an opioid with a benzodiazepine greatly increases the risk of overdose.
  4. If you are with another person, do not use at the same time.

We understand that a message like this might seem odd coming from a treatment center, but our message 1,000 times is this: Stick to your recovery plan and don’t use, no matter what. But when we get to message 1,001, we want to make sure that if you do use, you come home that night because dead people don’t recover.

Sincerely,

Sana Lake Recovery Center