BCHD Trains Residents to Save Lives on International Overdose Awareness Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Baltimore, MD (August 31, 2017) – Today, Baltimore City Health Officials and partners highlighted Baltimore’s ongoing response to the overdose epidemic in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day, a global annual event to raise awareness of overdose and reduce stigma associated with the disease of addiction.

Throughout the day, Baltimore City employees, volunteers, and partners conducted overdose education and naloxone trainings at 10 locations across the city and distributed up to 1,000 naloxone kits. Activities culminated with an intimate evening vigil in remembrance of those who lost their lives to overdose.

“We all have a role to play in addressing the challenges that our city faces every day,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “I applaud the Health Department and our partners for their efforts to save the lives of our fellow residents and to reduce the stigma surrounding this deadly epidemic.”

According to recently released data, there were 694 fatal overdoses in Baltimore City in 2016. Fatal overdoses involving fentanyl—an opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine—have increased 35-fold since 2013. An estimated 24,000 individuals misuse opioids in Baltimore.

“Overdoses continue to kill more people in our city than homicide,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “We must continue getting naloxone into the hands of residents so they can save lives, expand access to treatment, and eliminate stigma through education to ensure that no more lives are lost to this devastating disease.”

Over the last two years, the Baltimore City Health Department has developed a strategy to fight the opioid epidemic by issuing a blanket prescription for naloxone; formed a citywide, multi-agency Fentanyl Task Force responsible for creating real-time alert capacity and citywide rapid response for overdose spikes; and led outreach efforts that have resulted in more 25,000 people trained in the use of naloxone with more than 1,200 lives saved by everyday residents.

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