Overdose Awareness Day: Chicago area mom who lost daughter to drugs shares story to save lives

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One local mother who lost her daughter to drugs is on a mission to help save other lives.

Jennifer Flory had a career in information technology, but that was before her daughter, Alison, died of a drug overdose at the age of 24.

"She had done cocaine laced with carfentanil, so she was basically poisoned," Flory said.

It happened five years ago when Alison was in treatment for drug use. Since then, Flory has made it her mission to share her daughter's story and the impact of Alison's death on her family to help other people.

"It's just such a strong calling for me to make sure that people are aware that this could happen to them," Flory said.

Overdose Awareness Day is aimed at taking away the stigma of drug addiction and promoting healing among those who have experienced loss. And it comes as there is now a record number of people who have died from drug overdoses.

In 2020, more than 93,000 people in the US died from drug overdoses, a nearly 30% increase from 2019.

"The pandemic had people staying at home, they weren't going out," said Jim Brunetti, Ecker Center for Behavioral Health. "They may have thought they were occasionally going to use them, they became dependent on opioids."

Brunetti said the trend is not getting better in 2021, although in Chicago, drug overdoses are down this year.

"It's a huge problem," Chicago Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "It's one we don't talk a lot about here in Chicago, but it is linked to a lot of the other socio-economic issues that we see."

Several organizations in the area that treat drug addiction will have events Tuesday evening recognizing Overdose Awareness Day. And Flory will be at the event organized by Ecker Center for Behavioral Health in Elgin, in hopes that her story can make a positive change in someone else's life.

"If I had known then what I know now, maybe that could have been prevented," Flory said.
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