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International Overdose Awareness Day and New Jersey’s Expansion of Naloxone 365

Embrace change, save lives: Start carrying naloxone today.

Each year on August 31st, people across the globe unite to honor those we have lost to a drug overdose. On this day, we celebrate each individual’s inner light by carrying on their memory, united by sharing our pain and seeking solutions to the current overdose crisis.

Since 2018, over 15,000 precious lives have been lost to drug-related causes in New Jersey.

The heart of International Overdose Awareness Day beats with purpose. As the world's largest annual endeavor to end drug overdoses, this is a day free from judgment to remember and acknowledge the tremendous grief felt by our families and friends who have lost a loved one.

As we join together for this day of advocacy and remembrance, let us take a moment to reflect on all the ways we can be a force for positive change in our communities as professionals and world citizens working tirelessly to improve health outcomes that may potentially lead to overdose:

· Offer a safe space for public mourning, devoid of guilt or shame.

· Embrace inclusivity, involving people from all walks of life.

· Educate about fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

· Send a message of value to those who use drugs.

· Spark discussions on overdose prevention and drug policy.

· Provide essential information on available support services.

· Champion evidence-based practices to reduce harm.

· Raise worldwide awareness of overdose risks.

Through moments of silence signaling support and our collective amplified advocacy, we stride forward hand in hand along this path of hope and action. Join the movement and help to spread awareness of the global public health challenge of drug overdoses.

Be a part of the solution: Carry naloxone.

In New Jersey, naloxone (also known as brand name Narcan) is now being offered anonymously at no cost at participating pharmacies thanks to the Department of Human Service’s Naloxone 365 initiative. Through this program, anyone over the age of 14 can walk into a participating pharmacy and may receive up to two doses of naloxone without having to give their name or show identification.

In an effort to boost Naloxone365, NJPN’s recent Be a H.E.R.O. (Help Everyone Reverse Overdoses) campaign was launched in an effort to encourage pharmacies who have not yet opted into Naloxone365 to enroll as a participating pharmacy, while also joining with regional partners to promote the initiative and fight naloxone stigma.

Carrying naloxone isn't just a gesture of hope; it's a lifeline and a chance to reverse a potentially fatal opioid overdose and pave the way to a path of recovery. People who use drugs deserve dignity and respect, which includes this critical tool being made available to those in need, much like the placement of defibrillators in public spaces to treat cardiac arrest.

Why do I advocate for International Overdose Awareness Day? Because every life holds value far beyond any diagnosis. I see a person, a loved child, a sibling, someone cherished. Carrying Naloxone is a statement for community well-being, a tribute to those lost to overdose, and a critical tool to save numerous lives.

Now, I urge you to join in. Take the pledge. What's your reason? Why does this cause resonate with you?

Sound off in the comments below: “I carry Narcan because…”

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