Orange County will sponsor a special event on Wednesday, Aug. 31, to bring attention to International Overdose Awareness Day.
Overdose is a public health issue that impacts families and individuals from all backgrounds. The Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Department, Health and Emergency Services departments, along with Freedom House, are coordinating several activities throughout the day, culminating with a gathering to include speakers and candle-lighting to symbolize losses from 5-6 p.m. at the Peace and Justice Plaza in Chapel Hill.
Speakers at the gathering include Renee Price, Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners and Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart. UNC Family Medicine Professor and Founder of the FIT program, Dr. Evan Ashkin, will speak on the scope of the overdose issue and best practice interventions. Troy Manns from Recovery Communities NC (stigma and recovery) and Reid Getty from the NC Harm Reduction Coalition (critical need for access to harm reduction resources) will also be featured. Other speakers will represent families who have lost a loved one to overdose or who have had an overdose reversed.
“While overdose rates continue to rise in our county, state and across the country, we have life-saving harm reduction materials available,” said Caitlin Fenhagen, director of the Criminal Justice Resources Department. “We need to make these supplies as accessible as possible and remove the stigma from seeking them. This health crisis demands we do this with all urgency.”
International Overdose Awareness Day acknowledges overdose as a public health issue, works to prevent overdose through harm reduction, and helps process grief and loss for family and friends lost to overdose.
Throughout the day, Orange County community paramedics, Street Outreach, Harm Reduction and Deflection (SOHRAD) and Lantern Project staff will distribute harm reduction supplies and materials at locations throughout the county. In addition, informational tables will be set up at the Peace and Justice Plaza in Chapel Hill and UNC’s Pit from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Everyone in the community is invited to stop by the tables for materials, resources and information and join the gathering that begins at 5 p.m.