Jefferson County, Colo. — Overdose affects the entire Jefferson County community. Many people in our community have lost or nearly lost someone to overdose, have experienced an overdose themselves or know someone who uses drugs. Alongside those immediately impacted, our entire community grieves with each loss of one of our residents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide deaths from drug overdose have continued to rise, as well as health inequities surrounding overdose. From 2019 to 2020, deaths from drug overdose throughout the nation increased by 30 percent. In Jefferson County alone, 156 people died from overdose in 2020 (the most recent year data is available).
To honor the lives our community has lost and to continue work to reduce the toll of overdose for all people in Jeffco, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is observing International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) on Aug. 31, 2022. JCPH also hopes to use this opportunity to remind all our residents that there are important and tangible steps they can take to prevent overdose.
“Unfortunately, we know overdoses, particularly from opioids such as fentanyl, are a huge public health concern in our community. Though some people may feel disconnected from the problem, it touches all of us, and we each have a role to play in preventing overdose,” said Michael Miller, Opioids Initiatives Coordinator at JCPH. “By taking a few easy steps, everyone in Jeffco can better understand the issues surrounding overdose and equip themselves with the necessary tools to save a life.”
Here are some actions individuals can take today to prevent and/or respond to an overdose:
- Get Naloxone. In Colorado, naloxone (also called Narcan, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication) may be obtained without a prescription from participating pharmacies and harm reduction programs. Family members and friends of individuals who use opioids for any reason are strongly encouraged to obtain naloxone and become trained in responding to overdose. To find out where to obtain naloxone in your area, visit www.StopTheClockColorado.org.
- Points West, the Syringe Service Program at JCPH, offers training on overdose prevention and response. More information can be found at www.pointswestjeffco.com or by calling 303-239-7078.
- If you know someone who may be at risk for overdose, talk to them. Share your concerns and learn what to do in the event of an overdose.
- If you are with someone who may be experiencing an overdose, call 911 and stay with the person until emergency medical personnel arrive.
- If you or someone you know is prescribed medication for pain management, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the potential for overdose. Ask about how to prevent, recognize and respond to an overdose.
- Safe use, storage and disposal of prescription medications starts at home. For more information and helpful tips, visit Colorado’s own http://takemedsseriously.org/.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, from 2010 to 2020, the number of total overdoses in Colorado more than doubled, and overdoses involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased significantly from 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010 to 10.0 per 100,000 people in 2020.
“We as a community have felt the toll of overdose so acutely, but it can be empowering to know that we are not helpless in the face of this problem,” Miller said. “The first step is understanding. By observing International Overdose Awareness Day, we can get closer to the overall goal of ending overdose in Jeffco. And, importantly, we can do it together.”
For more information on International Overdose Awareness Day, or to find related activities in your area or across the globe, visit www.overdoseday.com. To learn more about efforts at JCPH to prevent overdose, visit our website.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.