Overdose Awareness Day
With a goal of raising awareness, supporting communities in the fight against drug addiction, and remembering loved ones lost to the epidemic, the state will observe its second “Ohio Overdose Awareness Day” on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
This year’s theme "Everyone Knows Someone. Overdoses Impact Us All," is to relay the fact that overdoses have touched the lives of every single Ohioan in some way. More Ohioans die from overdoses than from car crashes.
According to a recent study, nearly 4,000 Ohioans died of an overdose in a single year. Fentanyl was involved in over 70% of those deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 80 to 100 times deadlier than morphine. A dose of just a few milligrams of it can be fatal.
Fentanyl has found its way into Ohio’s drug supply and is being mixed in with other street drugs. Because drugs laced with fentanyl don’t look any different, many people who died of an overdose may not have known they were taking fentanyl.
Since 2021, Portage County has seen over 40 people die from accidental drug overdoses, with fentanyl being the leading cause.
“Sadly, this year, we appear to be on the same track, with fentanyl being mixed into other substances such as methamphetamines and cocaine,” explained Garrity.
This is why carrying naloxone is so important – to reverse overdoses and save lives.
Naloxone is available in Portage County at no charge through Project DAWN at the Portage County Health District, Townhall II, and a few other locations. Studies have shown that naloxone does not keep people in active addiction from seeking treatment. In fact, for many people, the experience of surviving an overdose pushes them toward treatment. Treatment resources and support information is also provided at distribution locations.
It's also important for people to call 911 immediately when they witness an overdose. Sometimes people are afraid they’ll be arrested when police arrive, but Ohio has a Good Samaritan Law that grants levels of immunity for people who call 911 during an overdose.
Despite all these challenges, there is hope.
“Treatment does work, and many people do achieve recovery” stated John Garrity, PhD, executive director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.
“We have many people going through the variety of treatment programs here in Portage County, including withdrawal management (detox), medication-assisted treatment, residential treatment, intensive outpatient programs, counseling, peer recovery support, and other programs and getting their lives back on track.”
For information on local resources, contact the Portage Addiction Helpline at 330-678-3006.
(Source: Ohio Department of Health Website: https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/oh-against-od/the-issue)