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'Don't give up on them': Mother remembers daughter who died of drug overdose

"If they are breathing, there is hope for them to get recovery," Michele Applegate said.

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International Overdose Awareness Day is observed to remember all who have lost their lives to substance abuse disorder.

The day is the world's largest campaign to end overdose and acknowledge the grief and pain of those they left behind.

Sister station WBAL spoke with a mother who lost her daughter in July 2020.

"My daughter was the most beautiful, outgoing smart person," Michele Applegate said.

Applegate said those smarts led to a college scholarship in 2011. Once there, Abigail Thompson's struggle with drugs began.

"She was very popular, started hanging around with other affluent popular kids and started using cocaine, LSD, mushrooms," Applegate said.

That began a 10-year battle with addiction. Thompson was in 17 recovery programs. Applegate said she went into debt paying more than $100,000 trying to help her daughter recover. Thompson's longest period of sobriety was 18 months.

Applegate said in the summer of 2020, Thompson was back in treatment.

"Unfortunately, she met someone in treatment that had just been admitted that had drugs, they used at the program, the program discharged both of them," she said.

Thompson would later overdose on fentanyl and die. She was 27.

Dr. Kenneth Stoller, director of the Johns Hopkins Broadway Center for Addiction, said the pandemic fueled the rise of overdose deaths.

"People are alone more if they are using alone, there's not people there to call 911 or to use Narcan to revive them. This is a 'I carry this at all times,' this is a lifesaving medication that everybody should be carrying so that if somebody overdoses, they can be revived right away," Stoller said.

On awareness day, Applegate wants people to know: "If you're involved with someone who has a substance abuse disorder, don't give up on them. If they are breathing, there is hope for them to get recovery. Get help for yourself so you can support loved ones, don't give up. Always keep that connection there so when they are ready for help, you are able to support them."