Overdose Awareness Day 2020
August 31, 2020
Today is Overdose Awareness Day, a day to honor those who have passed away from drug overdose deaths. Due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Denver Health is observing the day virtually this year, with a patient story video, education about the opioid overdose reversing medication NARCAN, the lighting of our building in purple tonight and a field filled with 1,062 purple pinwheels, with each to represent a person who has passed away from an overdose drug death in the past year in Colorado.
Denver Health's Center for Addiction Medicine wants to get the message across that every life matters and that every overdose death is preventable. Honoring the number of overdose-related deaths this year is more important than ever because they are going up in Denver and nationwide amidst the pandemic.
Overdose Deaths on the Rise During Pandemic
From January to May of 2020, there have been 555 overdose deaths in Colorado; that breaks down to 111 deaths per month and about 3-4 per day. Last year at this time, there were just 80 overdose deaths per month.
During that same time, overdose deaths from fentanyl, opioids and synthetic opioids have increased by 292 percent.
The biggest trends the Center for Addiction Medicine has seen in overdoses are:
- Highest rates among people aged 25-40
- People of color had the highest rates of death associated with overdose
- White men aged 25-40 saw the highest increase in fentanyl use
Center for Addiction Medicine Patients
We asked some of our patients, "What is the most important thing for people to know about overdose?" Many of their responses focused on the opioid overdose-reversing medication naloxone or NARCAN. Here's what just a few had to say:
"It can happen to anyone. I think there are many misconceptions about who overdoses. Most people assume that overdoses happen to junkies, the homeless and prostitutes, but it can be your neighbor, sister, father, best friend or you."
"People experiencing substance use disorder can only get better if THEY ARE ALIVE!!!"
"NARCAN can save lives, and to always remain calm when dealing with a person who has overdosed. I have proudly saved four people thanks to NARCAN."
"It can happen to you! Remember NARCAN!"
How To Observe Overdose Awareness Day
We want to encourage everyone to show your support for Overdose Awareness Day by wearing purple today and following Denver Health on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about the support we offer and what is important to know about persons with substance use disorders. We are requesting that people take a moment of silence and leave a message to a loved one in our Memory Box as you walk by the memorial of purple pinwheels, located in the large green space between Pavilions D, E, G and K on the Denver Health main campus. Each pinwheel represents a life lost to overdose this past year.We also ask that you use #EndOverdoseCO in any social posts about the day.