The New York State Department of Health will host the first annual state-led Opioid Overdose Awareness Day. This day will honor and reflect on the people who have died of overdose and celebrate people who dedicate themselves to harm reduction and saving lives.
Attendees are invited to share personal stories on how overdose has impacted their lives. This event will also include various workshops to hold space for remembrance, processing grief and trauma, as well as provide opportunities for key advocacy interventions to reduce overdose deaths.
This virtual event is organized by the New York State Office of Drug User Health in collaboration with several community advocates including Bethany Medley, a doctoral student at CSSW and part of the HEALing Communities Study at SIG. Of the importance of the day, Ms. Medley says,
"As overdose deaths reach record-breaking numbers, elevating International Overdose Awareness Day has never been more important. While this day is to honor and remember those we've lost, it is also about educating the public that every overdose death is a policy failure and therefore preventable. The overdose crisis won't end without critical reform measures like advocating for a regulated, safe supply (without harmful adulterants like fentanyl), supporting peer-led harm reduction interventions, reducing the barriers to treatment, and always prioritizing the expertise of people with lived experience of drug use on policies and programs that directly impact them."
The advocacy demands supported by community activists of both VOCAL New York and the Peer Network of New York -- including approval of Overdose Prevention Centers -- are highlighted here.