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These mothers lost children to opioid overdoses. On Mother's Day, they offer new approach.

From May 11,2924 USA Tody

Aimee Dunkle often ruminates about the call that could have saved her son's life.

A friend was with her 20-year-old son when he was in the grips of a heroin overdose in 2012, but the young man never called 911 for fear he'd be locked up for violating the terms of his drug diversion program. Ben suffered a catastrophic brain injury as a result of the delay in getting medical help. He died after eight days on life-support.

More than a decade later, as fatal opioid overdoses are skyrocketing across the U.S., Dunkle, 63, and other grieving family members have joined forces to call for compassionate treatment rather than criminalization of drug users like Ben's friend.

“We all want to see a reduction in overdose deaths, but punishment is not the answer,” Dr. Tamara Olt, a mother from Peoria, Illinois who lost her 16-year-old son Josh to an opioid overdose in 2012, said at a recent news briefing.

Olt serves as executive director of Broken No More, an organization founded by families and friends of people with substance use disorders. The organization held a virtual news conference in the lead-up to Mother's Day to share their support for drug policies informed by evidence-based public health practices, rather than punitive approaches.

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