“Overdose Awareness Day is an opportunity to remember that the numbers we hear about, talk about and form policy around, represent real people. It’s a time to hold space for families and people that have been left behind and remember those we’ve lost.”
Stacey Jefferson, Director of Policy and Stakeholder Engagement
Over the last year, Baltimore City community members lost 1,022 loved ones to overdose.
BHSB’s Youth Prevention Team and Bmore POWER joined the Baltimore City Health Department’s event at the Ynot Lot on August 31. Both teams connected with community members, handed out harm reduction tools like Narcan and resources to support Baltimore resident’s mental health and wellness.
Continuing the conversation at the White House
Along with other families from across the country directly impacted by opioid overdose, Director of Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Stacey Jefferson joined a conversation hosted Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
The discussion gave family members and advocates the opportunity to share their stories and advocate for policy that would address the immediate needs of their communities.
“A key point that was brought up was that while we understand that this is a wide-spread crisis, this is not new for Black and Brown communities, and the response has always been criminalization. We have the opportunity to work together to create policy that and addresses the stigma and ensures that there is equitable access to services,” says Stacey.
Advocates and families members also raised the importance of harm reduction practices such as access to Narcan and overdose prevention sites. Attendees encouraged White House officials to acknowledge the harm caused to communities by the War on Drugs approach and to think innovatively to meet people where they are with life-saving care..
In reflecting on the event, Stacey shares that,
“It was good to be around other families who have been affected by overdose, but turned the tragedy into advocacy. We are a part of a club that nobody wants to be a part of, and hearing their stories provides me with the inspiration I need to continue to advocate.”
From left to right: Tony Sanchez, Tiffinee Scott, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Stacey Jefferson
More coverage of Overdose Awareness Day:
- WYPR—Thousands died from drug overdoses in Maryland but fatalities decline slightly
- WMAR ABC News—Baltimore hosted community event for overdose awareness day
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