Overdose Awareness Day event spreads awareness of dangers of drug overdose

Rashawn Raysor/Contributing Writer

Panthers for Recovery and Students for Sensible Drug Policy held an event to raise awareness about the dangers of drug overdosing on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

The event was held to honor International Overdose Awareness Day, a day that seeks to address the stigma that surrounds drug-related death and spread awareness about the dangers of overdosing.

Last year alone, an estimated 72,000 reported deaths in the United States were due to drug-related overdoses, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Nathan Carr, president of SSDP, spoke about the loss of his mother. He recounted the events that led to his mother’s overdose. His mother had “a very traumatic life” and as a result developed a history of substance abuse.

“It was hard to be home, we were always busy,” said Carr.

There were many stories like his shared that night. A mother spoke about her son and the drug-induced downward spiral that led to his death. Linda Guillotti, president of National Organization of Women and Panthers for Recovery, shared her story about her own struggles with addiction as well as the story of how her brother died from an overdose.

Aside from anecdotes relating to substance use, there were also talks about what was being done in the community to help those afflicted. Susan Langston, head of the DEA Diversion Control Program in Miami, spoke about the Diversion Program, which seeks to regulate and investigate the pharmaceutical industry as well as reach out to the community.

Langston also talked about “pill mills” – clinics or doctor’s offices that prescribe medication without legitimate medical reasons – in South Florida and how to spot one. Some of the key signs to look out for include: lengthy lines of people outside a pharmacy or clinic, blacked out windows, no business signs out front, and transactions being done strictly in cash.

Jeff Friedman, a psychotherapist and clinical social worker, spoke on harm reduction, an approach to the current crises aimed at “meeting people where they are.”

Rather than advocate for strict abstinence, harm reduction focuses on making any positive change in the life of a person using drugs. Harm reduction methods include needle exchanges, safe injection sites, distribution of Narcan, a drug known to block the effects of opioids and prevent overdoses, and more.

Another aspect of harm reduction is the focus on “trying to do what is right.” This sometimes means acting without legal permission, as in the case of Dan Bigg, a prominent harm reductionist, who distributed Narcan before the federal government approved.

The event finished with a candlelight vigil downstairs on the Graham Center Lawns.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

1 Comment on "Overdose Awareness Day event spreads awareness of dangers of drug overdose"

  1. Thank you so much for attending and reporting on this event. It is greatly appreciated! We invite you to any future events Panthers for Recovery has.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.