OSI staff wearing International Overdose Awareness Day pins and holding their Naloxone training cards after being trained to administer the life-saving drug.
By Rachel Moler
One hundred and twenty nine. This is the number of people that die every day from an overdose in the United States. This number does not consist of individuals from just one race, gender, or social-economic class, but rather includes all ethnicities and ages. Often, individuals with a substance use disorder are considered to have developed an addiction due to a moral failure or lack of judgement when in actuality addiction is a disease that affects each person differently and his or her journey through recovery will vary. Unfortunately, as with all of life’s journey, there will be highs and lows. The lows could provide the opportunity for relapse and possibly an overdose. In 2015 in Baltimore City, 393 people died from overdoses, a number that has increased with each passing year. This is one reason why August 31st is so important to our city.
Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. Around the world people will be raising awareness of the toll of overdoses on families and communities and showing their support to those who are struggling with addiction. There will be numerous events held throughout Maryland to raise awareness (see below) and to help community members learn how to respond to an overdose if needed. Public overdose response trainings are scheduled throughout the city and open to the public provided by Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore and Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition (both OSI-Baltimore grantees), two organizations in Maryland that are certified by the state to provide overdose response trainings and certifications. For several years, the Drug Addiction Treatment Program at OSI-Baltimore has provided grant support for naloxone (a medication that reverses an opioid overdose) distribution and accessibility for Baltimore residents.
Also, today OSI-Baltimore and the Baltimore City Health Departments released a report called “Baltimore’s Response to the Overdose Epidemic” that details many of the local efforts that have been made to counter overdose in the last 16 years and what lessons have been learned.
This year, the Baltimore City Health Department reached out to community-based organizations to request one or more staff members from each organization to be trained as overdose response trainers. While I personally have not had to respond to an overdose, I believe it is my responsibility as a community member to learn how to appropriately recognize and respond to someone experiencing an overdose. And furthermore, I believe we as staff at OSI-Baltimore share the same responsibility. Which is why I participated in the training at the Health Department last week, to stand in solidarity with all those who personally struggle with or have loved ones with a substance use disorder, and today, I showed my colleagues in our office how to respond to an overdose.
There are numerous actions we as individuals can take to reduce the harms associated with substance use disorder. For instance, there are many places throughout Baltimore where one can dispose of expired or unused medication. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen issued a standing order for the entire city for naloxone to be dispensed by pharmacies and overdose response program employees or volunteers so that anyone can access it. You can participate in one of the overdose response trainings taking place throughout the city today. Or, you can join other Baltimore community members at Druid Hill Park this evening as they light luminary bags in remembrance of the 393 Baltimoreans who lost their lives to an overdose in 2015.
Crisis, Information & Referral Line, 410-433-5175. The line is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Check out the app: Overdose Aware
Baltimore Candlelight Vigil
Druid Hill Park (Sundial Pavilion)
Overdose Awareness Candlelight Event
Tuerk House, Inc.
730 Ashburton Street
Contact: Cyril Scovens firstname.lastname@example.org
CEU Training: Supporting Families Grieving Addiction and Overdose Death
Columbia Addiction Center
5570 Sterrett Place Suite 205
Contact: Litsa Williams email@example.com
St. Mark’s UM Church
100 Peachblosson Road
St. John’s Episcopal Church
9120 Frederick Road
Ellicott City, MD
Contact: Barbara Allen Barbara@jamesplaceinc.org
Candle Lighting Vigil & Recovery Celebration
6:00pm – 8:30pm
Thomas Isaac Log Cabin
Main Street & Ellicott Mills Drive, Ellicott City, MD
7:45pm (doors open 7:15pm)
710 Aquahart Road
Glen Burnie, MD
Contact: Carol Boyer firstname.lastname@example.org
Marathon Naloxone Training
College of Southern Maryland
Prince Frederick Campus
115 J.W. Williams Road
Prince Frederick, MD
Contact: Julie Mulligan Julie.Mulligan@maryland.gov
Montgomery County: Ceremony of Remembrance
Montgomery County Circuit Court
Contact: Marielsa Bernard MBernard@mcccourt.com
Overdose Awareness Rally
300 S. Salisbury Blvd
Contact: Shellie Talbott shellieCFI@aol.com