Purple Superdome and Memorial for Overdose Awareness Day in New Orleans
August 31st marks Overdose Awareness Day; a global event aimed to reduce drug-user stigma (one of the leading causes of overdose), to honor lives lost or affected by overdose, and to critically examine the global and local implications of drug policy/prohibition. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death in adults under the age of 50. In this last year, 54,000 lives were lost because of accidental overdose, this translates to 78 deaths each day. Last year in the United States, the overdose rate increased by 30%, and last year in New Orleans there were 217 overdose deaths. This is a 138% increase from the number of overdose deaths reported in Orleans Parish in 2015.
Numbers aside, this issue affects everyone and is preventable. Drug prohibition leads to drug-user stigma and incarceration instead of science-based treatment. Stigma and incarceration adversely affect drug users in countless ways, and one of the most tragic is overdose. Overdose is preventable. If one person was present at the site of an overdose with Naloxone on hand, they could save a life. Naloxone is an antidote which blocks the effects of opiates and reverses an opiate overdose. Naloxone is a life-saver.
In response to the overdose crisis in 2017 Louisiana Department of Public Health issued a standing order so you do not need a prescription for Naloxone at pharmacies. More information can be found here: https://www.nola.gov/health-department/behavioral-health/substance-use/. Furthermore, in 2014 a Good Samaritan Law protects the individual who overdosed from most criminal charges, easing fears of incarceration in response to overdose.