"By focusing on practical harm reduction tips rather than trying to scare people into treatment, Go Slow shows respect for people who use drugs by meeting them where they are."
Public education campaigns about drugs often rely on ineffective and stigmatizing scare tactics. They spread fear and shame that make people who use drugs feel more isolated and more hesitant to connect with treatment and support services. A different approach to public health messaging is needed—one that embraces harm reduction. With “Go Slow,” a prominent campaign that launched in July 2019, Baltimore now has such an approach.
There were nearly 800 overdose deaths in Baltimore in 2017, four times the amount in 2011. Over 75 percent of the fatalities involved fentanyl. Bmore POWER partnered with Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) to create a harm reduction communications campaign about fentanyl.
No one has a better understanding of the risks of fentanyl than the people with recent or current lived experience with it. We decided that they should lead the development and design of the campaign.The campaign was developed with Bmore POWER and other peers and people with who use drugs in a three day brainstorming session.
We decided to focus on giving people who use drugs practical, actionable tips to reduce the risk of fatal overdose. The message of the campaign is deliberately simple: “Go Slow. Fentanyl is here. Have a plan.”
The Go Slow campaignincludes ads on Baltimore mass transit, online and on social media across the city. Bmore POWER members give out Go Slow materials with naloxone during outreach.
The campaign outlines six practical tips: 1. Carry naloxone, 2. Go slow, 3. Never use alone, 4. If you must use alone, have someone check on you, 5. Talk to friends and family about what to do if you overdose, and 6. Test for fentanyl.
In addition to giving out actionable harm reduction tips, Go Slow respects the dignity and autonomy of people who use drugs. We recognize that if people can take steps to protect themselves and their friends from overdose, they will.
The campaign is for both people who use drugs and the family and friends who care about their safety. It encourages people to create an overdose prevention plan, which helps to bring the conversation about drug use and overdose into the open. Many people care about someone who uses opioids but feel powerless to help if that person isn’t interested in treatment. They are desperate for anything that will prevent another loved one from dying. Go Slow empowers them to be proactive about it.
Overdose Prevention Sites: Learn About the Impact and Growing Support in Maryland
Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) offer a safe space where individuals can consume pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision and connect to support services. These facilities are designed to reduce the health and public safety issues often associated with public drug consumption. They are also called safe consumptions sites or safe or supervised injection facilities.
Studies have consistently proven the positive impact of OPS, key among them reducing overdose deaths and increasing connection to substance use treatment for people who use drugs. AJohns Hopkins University study determined that an OPS in Baltimore would save the city $6 million dollars in healthcare and emergency costs. Despite the evidence showing the positive public health and public safety impacts of OPS, the idea still remains controversial in the United States.
No OPS exists in the United States. However, support for OPS in Maryland has been steadily growing. In July, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosbycame out in support of overdose prevention sites as a strategy to reduce criminalization of people with substance use disorders. Over the last several years legislation has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to allow community-based organizations to establish Overdose and Infectious Disease Prevention Site programs in up to six locations throughout the state. The legislation has garnered increased support throughout the years and is expected be reintroduced during the 2020 legislative session.
To learn more about the benefits of overdose prevention sites visit the Drug Policy Alliance website here.
Celebration of Life
The Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition is hosting an event on the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day to come together to celebrate love, life and survival.
When: Friday, August 30, 2019 - 6:00 - 9:00 pm
Where: The Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Ave, Baltimore MD 21217
International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.
When: August 31st, 2019
Recovery Month Picnic: An Afternoon of Story Sharing
This event will celebrate National Recovery Month through the art of storytelling. Come to share and listen to stories of how people are promoting hope and support, health and wellness, and meaning in our community.
When: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 3:00 - 5:00 pm
Where: The Chinese Pavilion in Druid Hill Park, Swann Drive, Baltimore MD 21217