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Special events and days of remembrance are essential for raising awareness about a disease like addiction and bringing it to the forefront of our thoughts. At Club HOPE, we work to build upon these important advocacy initiatives, to bring addiction into our daily awareness, and to demonstrate that it is a part of the human experience, not something to be stigmatized and ignored.

August 31 is internationally recognized as Overdose Awareness Day to honor those who have lost their lives to drug overdose and to encourage people to join together to work toward recovery. In 2021, my home state, Ohio, passed Senate Bill 30, officially establishing August 31 as Ohio Overdose Awareness Day. This important step put an annual spotlight on an epidemic that continues to rage across our state and our nation. In 2020, Ohio had the fourth highest rate of overdose death in the country: 5,204 Ohioans died by overdose, which means there were 47.2 deaths per 100,000 people. This equals 14 deaths per day in Ohio, nearly double the number of deaths measured six years earlier (i.e., 7.5 deaths per day in 2014).

I participated in this year’s Overdose Awareness Day in northeast Ohio. To learn more about advocacy initiatives in this part of the country, view this story from Cleveland’s Channel 19 News.

CARRY NALOXONE AND KNOW HOW TO USE IT

People around the world can advocate for a more compassionate approach to people with an addiction to opiates/opioids by advocating for the free distribution of naloxone, a nasal spray that reverses an opioid overdose in minutes. For instance, if you live in Ohio, one of the most important things you can do to decrease the number of overdose deaths is to carry and know how to use naloxone.

You may be wondering, “Will having a naloxone kit really make a difference?” Yes. It will! Earlier this year, I provided a kit to a colleague at work. Within one week, she used it to save the life of a complete stranger at a county fair. I am grateful that she was in the right place at the right time and had the courage to step forward. Instead of becoming a statistic, the individual whom she rescued got a second chance at life.

Naloxone is available free-of-charge in hundreds of Project DAWN locations around Ohio. You can also access naloxone through this new website.

ADMINISTERING NALOXONE IS AN ACT OF LOVE

Recently, the nonprofit organization 2nd Act began a pilot campaign, entitled “Naloxone is an Act of Love,” to reduce stigma surrounding the use of naloxone, to reduce stigma toward those who experience an opioid overdose, and to encourage people from all walks of life to carry naloxone and learn the proper way to administer it. The campaign includes a six-minute opioid-overdose rescue training video as well as two additional videos (each under two minutes) that demonstrate how naloxone helps save lives every day. These resources emphasize that naloxone can be used as an act of love between friends and relatives—and, as noted above, between fellow human beings who do not know each other. To watch the videos, visit this page of the 2nd Act website.

MAKING COMMUNITY STRONGER

While it is admirable on August 31 every year to remember those who have died by overdose, opiate/opioid overdose is a daily and deadly occurrence in our communities. The act of obtaining and carrying naloxone transforms overdose awareness from an annual memorial into an every-day remembrance and an act of love.


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Editing by Paul M. Kubek of PMK Consulting, LLC.

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