International Overdose Awareness Day emphasizes importance of keeping prescriptions safely stored
Monday marked International Awareness Day, which is a global event to raise awareness that overdose deaths are preventable.
Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — Monday marked International Awareness Day, which is a global event to raise awareness that overdose deaths are preventable. It’s also in an effort to reduce the stigma around drug-related deaths.
“Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those who lost their lives from an overdose and acknowledge the grief of their families, friends and loved ones. But it also provides an opportunity to work together to remove the stigma associated with substance use disorders and overdose,” said Lee Dutton, Chief of Staff with the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS).
In honor of this, Gov. Henry McMaster proclaimed Aug. 31 as Overdose Awareness Day throughout the state, and September as Recovery Month.
“One of the things that I found to be dangerous over the years is stigma, because stigma kills. Not just the overdoses, stigma kills. Not just the overdoses, stigma kills. The way we talk about treatment, the way we talk about recovery to others who don’t know, it makes a difference,” said Gregory Jacobs, Recovery Services Coordinator with DAODAS.
Research by DAODAS shows that the number of suspected overdose deaths statewide from January to June this year was 52% higher compared to last year.
“Since March of this year, South Carolina has seen a sharp increase in suspected opioid overdoses and first responder Narcan administrators. In May alone, EMS responded to more than 900 suspected overdoses in South Carolina,” said Linda Brown, DAODAS Overdose Prevention Coordinator. “Unfortunately, substance use disorders have greatly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
May’s numbers were the highest monthly number in the state’s history.
Officials emphasize the importance of keeping your prescriptions safely stored, and the importance of keeping Narcan on hand.
“I know of two cases right here at Transitions, where lives have been saved because of Narcan,” said Craig Currey, CEO of Transitions Homeless Center.
To help increase awareness, oversized prescription pill bottles were ‘locked up’ across Columbia to show the importance of safely storing your prescription opioids.
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