20th Anniversary Of Honoring Those Lost to Addiction and Substance Abuse

Source: TapInto New Jersey

Families who lost loved-ones due to overdoses, joined Morris County and state officials along with community organizations today to observe the 20th anniversary of International Overdose Awareness which recognizes the people who were lost to addiction and substance abuse. The global event aims to raise awareness of drug overdoses and to spread the message that overdose deaths are preventable.

“We are survivors. We can all begin this wonderful journey of recovery together as addicts, as families and as a community. In the process, we grow stronger in love, stronger in strength, faith, hope. We can recover. We do recover. We exist,” said Marisol Cruz Stahlberger of Morristown, who spoke at the gathering about a son, older brother and younger sister she lost to addiction.

More than 94,134 deaths have been reported nationwide for 2020, and the CDC estimates that number will settle at over 95,000 when all data is in. It is the largest one-year increase in overdose deaths since 1999 and a record high, according to the CDC.

The New Jersey Department of Health signed two standing orders to drastically expand access to naloxone, the lifesaving medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, which will more easily enable all licensed pharmacists to dispense any form of an opioid antidote to any individual or entity without an individual prescription and allow for the distribution of naloxone by other entities like Emergency Medical Technicians after they leave the scene of an overdose.

“While we are making incredible strides in our fight against the opioid epidemic, we must continue to expand access to harm reduction interventions,” said Governor Murphy. “We have already lost over 2,000 New Jerseyans to suspected overdoses this year, which is why it is critical to strengthen our ability to save lives by preventing overdose deaths and connecting.

Senator Anthony M. Bucco introduced legislation signed last year to recognize every August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day, and said yesterday the “crisis has evolved” with inexpensive, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl surpassing traditional drugs and resulting in poisoning deaths around the nation.

“This is a tough day of remembrance, but remember we must. Life will never be the same for those that are left behind, but the stories and the names are important for everyone to hear. For those that have been lucky enough to escape this disease, I hope today will be the day that you join us as we raise the voice of awareness,” Sen. Bucco said.

Rabbi Inna Serebro-Litvak of Temple Shalom in Roxbury asked those in attendance to “remember those who tried and did not make it”

“We pray for all of those still out there using today,” said Rabbi Inna Serebro-Litvak “God lead us and guide us in a way of healing and hope so that one day we will be free of this manmade plague called overdose.”

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