At CODA, we keep hope for our patients at the forefront. This is not a simple slogan or catchphrase. It is intentional. We focus on pointing toward the opportunity of the future, rather than glamorizing the horrific lows of addiction.

And, so, we don’t create memorials. We celebrate progress. Our news outlets, entertainment, social media—and often politicians—feed us images and stories overflowing with dark alleyways and grit. Pictures of syringes are used as casual background shots, without any appreciation for the pain they represent. You will not find these images at CODA.

However, we can’t ignore how truly frightening the experience of drug use is today. Overdoses in our community continue to increase, and our well-worn tools sometimes feel inadequate. It is easy to feel discouraged, or helpless. Our patients, or those we would hope will become patients, are incredibly vulnerable and we are driven to do everything in our power to help them. 

But today’s reality is that, sometimes, we cannot. In recent months, our programs have felt the very real tragedy of overdose. It is no longer something that happens somewhere else, to someone else. It happens here, too. So we press ourselves to improve, to prepare, to challenge our capabilities.

Despite our commitment, there will be days where we will feel pushed to our limits.  It is OK—it is natural—to feel that too.

August is Overdose Awareness month. We often talk of overdoses as “rates” that are increasing or decreasing in the community. They are part of “strategy” conversations. We devise “responses.” But let us also remember each overdose is a person, a loved one, and a loss for all of us. While we should all be proud of the role we play in changing lives every day, there is also room to allow ourselves to grieve the toll of this work. Caring for ourselves is how we care for others.

Please consider attending this webinar, scheduled for Wednesday August 2nd 9:00a.m.-10:00a.m. Pacific time.

Navigating Grief and Loss Following Substance Related Death | Register | Training | Grayken Center for Addiction TTA | Boston Medical Center (

–Alison Noice, CODA Executive Director