Overdose Awareness message is about recovery

Published 1:20 pm Monday, September 5, 2022

TOM LATEK

Kentucky Today

Overdose Awareness Day was observed Wednesday at the State Capitol and elsewhere around Kentucky, with the message that while people should mourn the lives that have been lost, recovery is possible.

Last year, 2,250 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses, a 14.5 percent increase from 2020; with 107,000 nationwide during that same time.

Gov. Andy Beshear directed flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise until sunset for Overdose Awareness Day in Kentucky, and the Governor’s Mansion was lit purple, the designated color to show support for overdose awareness.

During an event at the Capitol Rotunda, standing by a poster that showed the names of those who have died from an overdose, Rep. Patti Minter, R-Bowling Green, said, “It is important to emphasize that this is more than a time for mourning. For me, this is a call to action and a promise to turn our pain into real, quantifiable solutions. We cannot and should not be satisfied with this work, until there are no more names to add to this poster.”

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who presented a proclamation from Gov. Andy Beshear, told the gathering, “This challenge is so big, and it hits so many families, that we need partners from all backgrounds. No one should ever have to solve this problem alone, so we’re working with the legislature, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and non-profits.  We need partners who are ready and willing to collaborate, to help Kentuckians get through addiction.”

Van Ingram, who heads the Office of Drug Control Policy, called this an important event. “Statistically, six Kentuckians die from this preventable death every day. It’s a chronic brain disease that is destroying our people.”

Similar messages resonated outside of Frankfort. Addiction Recovery Care, which operates 30 addiction treatment programs in 21 central and eastern Kentucky counties, noted that with fentanyl and synthetic opioids becoming more pervasive in Kentucky and across the country, there has never been a more dangerous time to be in addiction.

ARC founder and CEO Tim Robinson said, “The lives we’re losing to drug overdoses are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, coworkers, neighbors and friends.  This is a day for us to mourn and reflect on these lives that have been lost too soon.  But it is also a reminder of the incredibly important work we are doing to support and lift up those in our communities who are struggling with addiction.”

Overdose Awareness Day is held worldwide on Aug. 31 each year to raise awareness of drug overdoses, to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends as they remember those who have died or have a permanent injury as a result of a drug overdose.