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International Overdose Awareness Day

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2023 at 1:27 pm

TRACY HARRIS – Staff Writer

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is an annual campaign to end overdose, remember those who have died from an overdose, and acknowledge the grief of those left behind. This year’s international theme was “Recognizing those people who go unseen”. The theme is meant to acknowledge people in our communities affected by overdose that might go unseen. There were events across the world and our county even held one of them.

The Marshall County Prevention Coalition hosted their event at The Walking Horse Breeders Association at 5 p.m. on Aug. 31. More than 50 people showed up for finger foods, support, opioid overdose reversal kits, and silent auction items. Several local businesses and anonymous donors donated items to the auction. A candlelight vigil was led by Marshall County Recovery Court graduates.

President Liz Bensinger spoke at the event. She explained the TN Department of Health now uses new diagnostic codes to report drug overdoses. These went into effect in Jan. 2023. Bensinger said, “I think this is important to identify particularly in our local communities, so we know what to address. We realize it’s not going away. Its just getting more complicated.”

During the event, Matt Brown from TN Save a Life spoke to the crowd. He showed how to administer the nasal spray form of naloxone (Narcan) and brought “opioid overdose reversal kits”. This medication reverses opioid overdose so a person can breathe until EMS arrives. Brown showed how to administer the nasal spray form. These kits are provided free of charge through TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS).

TDMHSAS provides training and education through Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists (ROPS) that are located throughout our state. ROPS are a point of contact for training and education on opioid overdose and for overdose prevention through the distribution of naloxone (Narcan).

According to the TDMHSAS website, from October 2017 to March 2023, ROPS distributed more than 450,000 units of naloxone, and TDMHSAS has documented at least 60,000 lives saved because of naloxone distributed during that time. The department believes the actual number of lives saved may be much higher due to stigma and other factors.

The Marshall County Prevention Coalition is committed and dedicated to providing resources for people in active addiction, as well as the ones who love them. Bensinger said, “We’re here to help. This is what the coalition’s goal is. Our mission is to make sure that we can provide the education and resources to get everybody in the community the help they need in order to develop a healthy community. There are safe and effective ways to recover from substance use disorder. We just need individuals to reach out.”