More than a dozen addiction and treatment organizations along with other social service providers met on August 31 at St. Mark’s UM Church in Easton to participate in International Overdose Awareness Day.
The evening offered information about local treatment resources, addiction counseling and grief counseling for those who have tragically lost a loved to an overdose.
Sponsored by Mariah’s Mission Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and Talbot Partnership for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, service providers sought to encourage awareness of the ever growing problem of opioid addiction and drug overdoses in Talbot and neighboring counties.
The event mission statement provided by Talbot Partnership in Easton states that it “is committed to providing a platform to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends who have lost a loved one to overdose. The purpose is to raise awareness that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable and to share information with people of all ages and walks of life that will help save lives.”
Mariah’s Mission, a foundation to educate and refer treatment and counseling services and support groups, was founded by Valerie and Rick Albee, parents of Mariah Albee, who lost her life from a heroin overdose in 2012.
Currents studies indicate an unabated increase in addiction and overdose globally, with treatment availability for one in ten for the 2.1 million Americans with substance abuse issues related to opioid pain relievers (2012 study), and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Addictions specialists are warning of the increase in fatal overdoses due to the animal tranquilizer carfentanil and fentanyl; a synthetic opioid often added to heroin. Recently, In Cincinnati alone, police and emergency services have responded to between 20 and 30 overdose reports a day.
A 2014 “Substance Abuse in Talbot County” states “heroin abuse is on the rise in Talbot County and throughout the state. The survey monitored whether teens had ever used heroin. Reported abuse by 12th graders increased by 41% and 10th graders rose by 70% compared to 2007.
In Maryland in 2015, there were 1,259 overdose deaths in 2015 —nearly doubled since 2010.
Talbot County’s participation in National Overdose Awareness Day sought to personalize statistics by offering as a centerpiece a memorial service with the names of those who lost their lives to addiction. At evening’s end, after a moment of silence, a lighted paper lantern inscribed with the names of the lost floated up and over the town.
Guest speakers were: Susan Coale, LCSW-C – Clinical Manager of Bereavement Services at Chesapeake Life Center, Addie Eckardt – Maryland State Senator, Michael Flaherty, Ph.D. – National Expert on OD/Clinical Psychologist – Resident Tilghman Island, Joe Gamble – Talbot County Sheriff and John Winslow – Recovery Leadership Program Coordinator of the Maryland chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence
Here are a few minutes from the event. A standalone video of Dr. Michael Flaherty appears below.
Photos appearing in the video were taken by Kate Gallagher, UM Shore Regional Health Communication.