Jefferson County, Colo. — Overdose affects everyone in our community. It impacts all people, from those who have lost or nearly lost a loved one to overdose, to those who have experienced overdose themselves, to those who know someone or are themselves struggling with addiction.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2017, 72,000 people died from overdose in the U.S., the highest number ever recorded and a two-fold increase over a decade before. More than 49,000 of those overdoses involved opioids.
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) knows that overdose has impacted the population of Jefferson County in a multitude of ways. To showcase the wide-reaching impact and gravity of this topic, as well as to remember the lives lost and in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day, JCPH is hosting End Overdose Jeffco, an interactive and informational event.
End Overdose Jeffco will take place Aug. 29, 2018, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Jefferson County Administration and Courts Building, 100 Jefferson County Parkway in Golden. All members of the public are welcome to attend to learn more about the issues of drug overdose in our community, to stand in solidarity with one another and to memorialize the people they have lost.
Keynote speakers include Rob Valuck, Director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and Dr. Gerald Tripp, Medical Director of St. Anthony’s Hospital Emergency Department. Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader will kick off the event. Other local speakers will describe what prevention, treatment, sober living and recovery look like in Jefferson County. The event will conclude with an overdose response and prevention training, including Naloxone administration.
“End Overdose Jeffco aims to raise awareness of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and remember those who have died or suffered due to drug overdose. It is also an opportunity to stimulate discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and policy,” said Jeff Hanley, Opioid Initiatives Program Coordinator at JCPH. “We need to treat drug-related harm as a public health issue and invest in proven practices that can save lives. No community, including Jefferson County, should be left behind.”
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, nearly 224,000 Coloradans misuse prescription drugs each year, and in almost every year for the last 15 years, Colorado’s drug overdose rate was significantly higher than the national rate. Since 2000, the number of Colorado’s prescription opioid-related overdoses have quadrupled.
“The things we’re seeing across the country with the opioid crisis aren’t just happening on newscasts in faraway places. They aren’t just happening in big cities or in downtown areas. They’re happening all across Colorado. They’re happening here in Jefferson County,” Hanley said. “We, as a community, owe it to ourselves and to each other to learn as much as we can about this topic so we can achieve real change, and at the end of the day, save lives.”
The schedule for the event will be as follows:
At the event, the Office of Behavioral Health will also display the Opioid Memorial Wall, created as part of the Lift the Label campaign, which displays 4,200 pill bottles and demonstrates the magnitude of the opioid crisis in America. Each pill bottle on the wall represents 10 Americans lost to heroin and prescription opioid overdoses in 2016, and each bottle has an anti-stigma message that encourages hope and recovery.
In addition, attendees will be encouraged to participate in creating an interactive art piece, in which they can choose to memorialize a lost loved one, share a message of strength or stand in solidarity with their community. Details about this activity will be provided at the event.
For more information about the event, please contact Jeff Hanley at [email protected] or 303-239-7008. To learn more about International Overdose Awareness Day, which takes place annually on Aug. 31, visit www.overdoseday.com.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan through prevention, education and partnerships for all people. To learn more about JCPH, visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.