WASHINGTON – Last Saturday, August, 31 marked Overdose Awareness Day across the globe. Overdose Awareness Day is meant to raise awareness for people who may not think there are any solutions when it comes to drugs and their effects on an individual’s life. The day is also used to reduce stigmas associated with drug-related deaths and serves as a remembrance for families who lost loved ones or suffered from permanent trauma due to overdose.
Members of HIPS and The Chosen Few hosted a rally to bring awareness to this day and spoke in the community center located near the Marvin Gaye Park shortly after the conference in D.C. to inform, offer support and educate family members and those who suffer from drug abuse. HIPS and the Chosen Few are organizations which help a community which suffers from drug-related issues by offering services and assistance to those who need care and support. HIPS began as a cooperative extension service of the Center for Disease Control as a night-based outreach and hotline counseling to young women on the streets (HIPS.org).
The Chosen Few is the first user union here in the District. The group was founded in 2016 by community members and HIPS staff. The Chosen Few holds weekly meetings at HIPS. Meetings President, Maurice Abbey-Bey, Vice President, Tamika Spellman, and Historian Charmaine Sauls run the weekly meetings.
The Chosen Few seek to represent communities and individuals impacted by the War on Drugs to combat criminalization, stigma, and oppression and promote the health, rights, and dignity of people who use drugs. The Chosen Few accomplishes this through leadership development, community organizing, peer-to-peer and public education, participatory research, direct actions, and harm reduction services according to HIPS.org.
HIPS does needle exchanges with their clients which help to prevent illness from spreading and also provide anything needed to aid their clients in making sure they remain alive by avoiding an overdose.
They rely on donations from the community. From those donations, the organization can provide services like the ability to serve ten lunches a program where members give food to “street-based clients” to prevent hunger and malnutrition for those who have limited food access. HIPS offer a one week of 24-hour crisis counseling through the organization’s national hotline, which is their longest-running unfunded program.
If a client wishes to become clean and stop using drugs like Heroin, HIPS provides medical assistance and enroll their client into a recovery program.
“We use the backpack model, which means we go with a backpack anywhere our clients need us. They can call us, and we will meet them anywhere, hotels, alleys, their homes, it doesn’t matter. All that matters it the client is getting the proper assistance and care whenever needed. We also administer Narcan and give training for the administration.” Garry Cooper, an employee at Family Medical, said.
Narcan is a medication used to block the opioid effects and give time for medical professionals to take care of the overdosed individual.
Other organizations which help with drug-related issues include DrugRehab.com, a web-based organization founded in 2015 which provide research, fact-based resources for free. Readers can learn about the risks of various substances and offer places where one can receive treatment, according to DrugRehab.com.
“When my sister Natalie passed away, the world didn’t lose an addict, our family lost a mother, a sister, a daughter, a cousin, and a friend. We will miss her every day for the rest of our lives, and the only way this crisis can concur is if awareness is raised and families continue to share their stories and reach out for help. Many families are dealing with the opioid crisis every day. Because of the stigma of having a family member addicted. The family member addicted may be uncomfortable seeking help or even speaking publicly about the issue at hand.” Annie Pierce, a participant of the HIPS conference and event, said.
Thousands of families are affected by drug and drug overdoses. This article is meant to spread awareness of options one can take when suffering from drug-related traumas. Whether it is for a family member or friend of someone suffering from drug addiction or for the drug addict or user, there are organizations near for the strict purpose of providing support and aid by any means necessary.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is an organization which focuses on the scientific effects’ drugs have on individuals. They help to identify the biological, environmental, behavioral, and social causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and how it can affect an individuals’ lifespan. NIDA also develop new and improved treatments to help people with substance use disorders to achieve and maintain meaningful and sustained recovery. The research uncovered by NIDA and their treatments increases the public health knowledge and understanding of how different substances impact life.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is another resource available to combat OD and drug-related issues. In response to an increased demand for treatment services, a surge in viable treatment options provided by service providers has emerged in recent years. SAMHSA is a resource which shares facility contact information which is available through their Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, a search engine to help facilitate more access to mental health and substance use treatment services.
In memory of those who fell victim to a drug overdose.