Opioid Awareness Program and Candlelight Vigil August 31

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Courtesty HAN

On Wednesday, August 31 there will be an Opioid Awareness Day Program and Candlelight Vigil at THEARC’s Blackbox Theatre (1901 Mississippi Ave. SE). The event begins at 5:30 and features short remarks from those affected by the ongoing opiod crisis, including physicians, family members and those in recovery.

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. DC based health equity group Health Alliance Network (HAN) decided to focus the event on opioids, a significant crisis in the District. In one 48-hour period this June, DC recorded 29 suspected overdoses due to the drug. Fortunately, those were not fatal. In January, 10 people overdosed on fetanyl in Southwest; three of them died.

HAN founder Ambrose Lane Jr. said the goal of the August 31 event is to provide information, recognition and healing. Information on the depth of the crisis and resources available for healing will be available at the theatre.  The event features a short trailer of the film “Tipping the Pain Scale,” which focuses on individuals dealing with failures in systematic methods of coping with addiction.

The candle light vigil will take place at 7:30 in the ampitheatre, recognizing those lives lost to opioids and the impact on the community.

Unfortunately, many lights have gone out in the District due to the opioid crisis. Opiod deaths have risen nationally; in DC, deaths by opiod are double the number of homicides. Between Januay and August 2021, there were 288 opioid overdoses in the District. According to a study by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OTCME), 1707 people died of opioid use in DC between January 1 2016 and August 31 2021. That’s way more deaths due to the drug than due to homicide, although the latter gets more attention. During the same period, there were 943 District homicides during the same period.

HAN started the Opioid Solutions Working Group a little more than a year ago. Last spring, the working group sent a resolution last year that was endorsed by 8 of 10 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) in Spring 2021. That resolution called for a 24-hour recovery center, enhanced partnerships with pharmacies and an integrated and comprehensive recovery care model for recovery. In June 2021, HAN sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser requesting those solutions be impletmented.

NARCAN, or Naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of opiod oerdose, will also be available for pick up at the event. COVID vaccines will be available starting at 5:30 p.m. A $50 gift card is offered to those getting their vaccine from United Medical Center.

Learn more about the Health Alliance Network by visiting their Facebook Page or by emailing healthalliancenetworkward7@gmail.com