Attention to opioid addiction is essential
August 31st is the International Day of Overdose Awareness, which aims to shed light on the magnitude of the overdose crisis. This day is also a reminder of the family, friends, neighbors and colleagues we lost in the drug overdose epidemic.
The overdose crisis continues to plague our country, our state, and our community. The COVID-19 pandemic was a priority of our attention, but unfortunately it has shifted its focus from other serious issues.
Ben Hasty-Read Eagle,
Kevin S. Bernhard
Since the pandemic, deaths from overdose in the United States have skyrocketed. In 2020, there were more than 93,000 overdose deaths nationwide, 5,172 overdose deaths in Pennsylvania, and 134 deaths in Berks County.
Not only are these numbers staggering, they also represent a significant increase over the previous year. It affects and devastates all segments of our society and communities.
Stanley J. Papademetriu, Secretary-General of the Council on Chemical Abuse
Efforts have been made to control deaths from local overdose. These efforts include raising awareness, confirming the availability of proven therapies, developing more direct connections to drug use treatment services, and making the life-saving drug Nalcan readily available to the community. Includes doing.
All of these efforts are worthwhile and will help you address the issue. However, many of these efforts have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time to re-engage and double our efforts.
Law enforcement agencies are doing their best to stop the influx of illegal and dangerous drugs into our community and fight drug-related crimes. But, as District Attorney John Adams has repeatedly stated, we do not intend to prevent a way out of this problem.
More awareness-raising events need to be held safely so that people can understand the severity of the problem and the resources available to the community. Narkan is easily accessible and easily available. You need to make sure that you are in the hands of those who may be in a position to save someone from a fatal opioid overdose.
At the top of the list is dealing with the stigma surrounding substance use disorders and addiction. It’s time to treat these obstacles as public health issues. It is also time to consider new ways to tackle this crisis and embrace new ideas and practices that have been proven and working in other communities.
International Overdose Awareness Day deserves to be the day before the National Recovery Month, which is celebrated every September. Tens of millions of people in this country suffer from substance use disorders or addictions. Many of us are frustrated by our loved ones and friends who are suffering from addiction and never seem to get better.
However, in reality, recovery from addiction is not only possible, but it occurs on a regular basis. It is estimated that approximately 30,000 people in Berks County are recovering from substance use disorders or addictions. These individuals are living evidence that the hope of a better life without addiction is achievable.
In Berks County, we know we can and will continue to do better, given the perception that about 11 people die each month from drug overdose. We also enjoy the fact that there is hope. We hope to work together to reduce the number of deaths from overdose in Berks County. We hope that more people will understand the nature of substance use and where they can get help. And most importantly, we hope that those suffering from substance use will find the right path to help guide them towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.
International Overdose Awareness Day pauses us to think about the enormous overdose problem, and National Recovery Month gives us the courage and optimism that things can get better.
Kevin Barnhart, County Commissioner of Burks, and Stanley Papademetriu, Secretary-General of the Council for Chemical Abuse, are co-chairs of SOS Burks.