Local communities around the world are coming together on Overdose Awareness Day to remember those who have passed away or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose. In 2020, the CDC reported that 93,000 people died from an opioid overdose in the midst of the pandemic, with 156 of those deaths occurring locally in Onondaga County. Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County Commissioner of Health explained that “efforts to stop the opioid crisis are more vital than ever, as the pandemic has exacerbated risk factors such as high unemployment rates, social isolation, and despair, as well as the disruption of available treatment and harm reduction support services that individuals with substance use may depend on.”
Observed on August 31st every year, International Overdose Awareness Day seeks to create a better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use. Locally, the Onondaga County Health Department has partnered for the second year in a row with Prevention Network for an Overdose Awareness Day event on Tuesday, August 31st. There will be drive-thru naloxone training, fentanyl testing strips, educational materials, and more. The event will take place in the Prevention Network parking lot at 906 Spencer Street, Syracuse from 3:00 to 7: 00 pm. This event is open to the public and free of charge.
Dr. Gupta urged that “addressing opioid use and overdose is an urgent public health priority, and making potentially lifesaving treatments more readily available is an important way to address this crisis.” Naloxone remains the most powerful tool in preventing opioid overdose deaths and is a safe medication that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. Dr. Gupta continued, “This is a vital component of the three-pronged approach taken by the Onondaga County Health Department to address the opioid epidemic.” The approach includes the following:
- Preventing substance use disorders by ensuring safe drug disposal, implementing appropriate prescribing practices, increasing community awareness of the opioid crisis, and reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders.
- Treating substance use disorders by providing timely access to treatment and recovery options, along with appropriate linkages to follow-up care.
- Reversing opioid overdoses through the effective distribution and use of naloxone, and ensuring long-term supports for people pursuing recovery.”
Each of these strategies is a vital component of reversing the opioid crisis. If you are unable to attend the event on August 31st and would like to take a virtual training please visit www.ongov.net/health/opioids/NaloxoneTraining.html to see available training options community-wide.