BoCo Overdose Awareness Day 2020
Over this past weekend, Boulder County promoted 2020 Overdose Awareness Day with free education and Narcan distribution as well as a drive-in style showing of the movie “Beautiful Boy”. The aim is to de-stigmatize overdose, drug-related deaths, and spread awareness on how to help those struggling with addiction. Though overdose awareness is always relevant, it’s importance during this time is becoming increasingly important. In addition, focusing on opioid addiction plays a big part in overdose education.
Today, the whole world is uncertain in the face of Covid-19. Unfortunately, stress from the pandemic is creating and compounding preexisting conditions of mental illness and substance use disorder. Addiction can become a coping mechanism for those attempting to regulate their nervous system during times of stress, depression, or anxiety. In addition, challenging times, such as these, can exacerbate stress, leading to greater mental health concerns. In the US, alcohol sales have risen by 27% since March. Isolation can have very negative effects on depression and mental illness.
Overdose Awareness & Mental Health Support During COVID-19
Though some feel it is still too early to draw any definite conclusions on how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting substance abuse, some organizations like Millennium Health report an increase in drug use. In a recent analysis of 500,000 urinalysis drug tests from mid-March into May, a 32% increase is shown for nonprescribed Fentanyl, 20% for methamphetamine, and 10% for cocaine. The ODMAP (Overdose Mapping Application Program), run out of the University of Baltimore, reported almost an 18% increase in suspected overdose in participating counties after stay-at-home orders were implemented in March. In light of these increasing numbers, we see the importance of education, relationships, communication, and compassion. People are struggling—financially, health-wise, emotionally. Mental health support is vital. Substance use disorder programs and detox centers remain open and 12-steps meetings are held virtually online. This helps but more needs to be done.
How to Support Overdose Awareness
There are many things we can do in our communities to create awareness around substance abuse and overdose awareness. Here are some tips from our team!
- Know the signs. When it comes to substances, educate yourself. In addition, it is wise to know the warning signs of addiction or what an overdose looks like.
- Stay connected. When it comes to addiction, we know isolation is the silent killer. When we are alone, with our thoughts, we can go to dark places. Even the best of us can experience this so it’s very important to stay connected to those you think might be at a higher risk of substance use issues. Check on your loved ones. Furthermore, if you know someone who has struggled with addiction in the past, reach out just to say hello. When we show up for other people we can truly save lives.
- End the stigma. Be an advocate. What we know, from experience, is that there is still a lot of stigma around substances, especially hard drugs such as opiates and heroin. Not only do we need education, but we also need to chip away at this stigma. Some ways to do this are:
- read about mental health and substance abuse to really understand how interconnected the two are. Some great options are here.
- talk openly about substances with those you care about
- let others know there is no shame in struggling
Finally, stay in communication in your region. When we advocate for awareness, education, prevention, and safety, we can help local representatives who need support (and they always do!). If you or someone you know is having a hard time, help is available. Even if Redpoint is not the appropriate fit, we will guide you and help you find what is.
We are here for you. The Redpoint Center offers two locations in Colorado. Call us. (888) 509-3153