August 31st is International Overdose Awareness day. It is a day to remember those we have lost to overdose and to raise awareness on evidence-based practices to prevent overdoses like overdose prevention centers and overdose reversal medication such as Naloxone and Narcan. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), an average of nine North Carolinians died each day from a drug overdose in 2020. Each one of these people was a beloved child of God, and we lament the loss of them in our state.
I would like to share a portion of a prayer from the Rev. Erica Poellot from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) LifeSaver Awards Ceremony:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, my God. We gather to celebrate those who have survived, and those who have saved the lives of others. We also gather to remember the lives of our beloved lost. We gather to honor the living and to remember, To remember and hold space for those who are no longer with us…..We love you. We are witnesses to your life and the knowing that it was worth saving. Your memory will be our light for the way forward, a way that compels us to resurrect again and again your living and our love for you. In all the holy names, Amen.
Ways you can get involved in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day
- You can attend an International Overdose Awareness Day event. You can find a list of events here.
- You can host an Overdose Awareness day worship service. Check out the recording of our Sacred Conversation on How to Host and Overdose Awareness Day Service for resources and ideas.
- Get trained on how to reverse an overdose and carry the overdose reversal medication such as Naloxone and Narcan. Contact your local harm reduction agency or your local department of health and human services. You could even apply for one of our mini-grants and use the money to put on training for your faith community.
- Get involved in advocacy around ending overdose. Currently, each county is receiving its portion of the global settlement funds. You can advocate for those funds going towards funding existing evidence-based syringe service programs and distributing overdose-reversing medicine naloxone in communities, as well as ensuring people who use drugs have a seat at the decision-making table of how the funds will be spent, and expanding to the gold standard of medication-assisted treatment methadone and buprenorphine treatments, which helps reduce overdose deaths.
- Get involved with updating North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law. We know that calling 911 will save lives, but North Carolina’s current Good Samaritan law is one of the most limited in the country, and it does not provide adequate protection for the law to be effective. You can sign on to this letter to improve the Good Samaritan Law.