Press Release – International Overdose Awareness Day Aug 31, 2023 – Summary
August 31, 2023
RECOGNIZING THOSE PEOPLE WHO GO UNSEEN
International Overdose Awareness Day
Lake County, OH: Local communities in Lake County and around the world are coming together on August 31, 2023, to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose.
Observed on August 31 every year, International Overdose Awareness Day seeks to create a better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.
The Lake County ADAMHS Board partnered with five mental health agencies across the county to share a day of events with the community. The community partners were: Crossroads Health, Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers, the General Health District, Signature Health and Windsor Laurelwood.
These events were to honor the people whose lives have been altered by overdose. They were for the family and friends grieving the loss of a loved one; workers in healthcare and support services extending strength and compassion and spontaneous first responders who selflessly assume the role of lifesaver in a moment’s notice.
The Lake County ADAMHS Board is also sharing the stories of two local residents that have been effected by overdose. Eileen said “If you have a user in your family, you have to be there when they need you, support them, seek help, but you can’t just nag them. Nagging sends them away and we need them as close as we can. I hope by his (her son Larry’s) death maybe somebody will learn a lesson and will survive.” The other resident lost her ex-husband, Sean. Heath spoke about the importance of seeking help for herself, her children and those around her. “I spent over 20 years with Sean dealing with this crisis, was like a tornado. He wasn’t able to fight it, his addiction was strong, really strong. Even though he never gave up, he kept fighting, I kept fighting, and I kept being supporting without enabling. I would say you can do the things to help your loved one and still take care of yourself. That is most important, make sure you are taking care of you and getting the help you need.”
The Board of Commissioners recognized the Lake ADAMHS Board by dedicating today as Overdose Awareness Day in Lake County at the board meeting. But this was more than just Lake County, this was a global movement of understanding, compassion, and change. “When we come together as a community to remember those we have lost, we are bringing awareness and helping to stomp out the stigma surrounding substance abuse overdoses,” said John R. Hamercheck, Lake County Commissioner President.
Global overdose rates have skyrocketed in the last 25 years. In 2020, an estimated 284 million people worldwide had used a drug in the past 12 months, a 26% increase from 2010. “Overdose can affect anybody and one of the messages of this day is that the people who lose their lives to overdose are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters – they are loved and they are missed,” said Kim Fraser, Executive Director of the ADAMHS Board.
Many may question if illegal drugs are even in Lake County? Yes, unfortunately, drugs are in every county in Ohio, including here in Lake County. In fact, in 2022 alone the number of drug overdose deaths were higher than they had been in the past five years. Lake County Narcotics and the Lake County Crime Lab team seized over 8,200 fentanyl pills in 2022. So far in 2023, of the 23 overdose deaths thus far, 20 tested positive for the presence of fentanyl. In fact, in 2023, 80-90% of fentanyl pills confiscated also included Xylazine, a very powerful sedative which cannot be treated with Naloxone and could lead to more overdose deaths and less opportunity for those using drugs to even access treatment services. Without a doubt, there are drugs being used and sold in Lake County but there will continue to be services available for those needing them.
The situation is especially severe in the US. In 2021, provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 107,622 drug overdose deaths, an increase of 15 percent from 2020. “We encourage members of the community with lived experience to come to this event and to stand in solidarity with the men and women who have been personally affected by overdose,” said John Plecnik, Lake County Commissioner.
“Connecting with our patients and community members on their devastating experiences with opioid overdose is a powerful motivator to keep pushing forward on awareness and access to treatment,” said Lake County Commissioner, Richard J. Regovich.
International Overdose Awareness Day is convened by Penington Institute, an Australian not-for-profit. A full list of the IOAD 2023 events currently planned around the world can be found at: https://www.overdoseday.com/events-2023/
About Crossroads Health: Crossroads Health is a non-profit behavioral and primary health care provider serving the Northeast Ohio area with facilities located in Mentor and Painesville, as well as their New Directions facility, an adolescent and young
Table promotions for resident to plant a tree in memory of those lost.adult-based residential, recovery housing, and out-patient treatment facility for substance use and mental health challenges located in Pepper Pike. www.CrossroadsHealth.org
About the Lake County ADAMHS Board: The Lake County ADAMHS Board plans, funds, monitors, and evaluates services available to residents who are living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. www.HelpThatWorks.us
About the Lake County Health District: Working to prevent disease, promote equity in health, and protect our community through innovative public health practice. www.LCGHD.org
About Lake-Geauga Recovery Center: Lake-Geauga Recovery Center is a private, non-profit agency that provides a wide range of services for adults whose lives have been affected by their own or another’s use of alcohol, drugs, problem gambling or by mental illness. www.LGRC.us
About Signature Health: Signature Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center providing mental health, addiction recovery, primary care, and infectious disease services to patients of all ages, regardless of ability to pay. www.SignatureHealth.org
About Windsor Laurelwood: Celebrating 125 years of service, Windsor Laurelwood provides acute inpatient services and outpatient services for children as young as 6 years old, adolescents, and adults with mental health issues, while also providing the full continuum of care for those Adults with substance use disorders. www.WindsorLaurelwood.com