Local communities in the Mohawk Valley and around the world are coming together on Thursday, August 31, 2023, to celebrate International Overdose Awareness Day. Under the theme “gone but never forgotten” ACR Health strives to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose and, in their honor, provide tools critical toward ending overdoses in our community.
Observed annually on August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create better understanding of overdose, remember without stigma those who have died from overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, create change to reduce the harms associated with drug use and acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind.
Sponsored by Gilead and Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, ACR Health’s IOAD event will be held on Thursday, August 31, 2023, from 6pm to 9pm at Kopernik Park in Utica, NY. The event will feature speakers, community resources, harm reductions kits and Narcan (naloxone) training, memorial, food, music and family-friendly activities.
By hosting an event this year, with community partners Loaves & Fishes Warming Center, Upstate Family Health Center, Oneida County Opioid Task Force, Ground Zero Peers, Community Health & Behavioral Services, we are joining a local and global movement for understanding, compassion, and change.
Global overdose rates have skyrocketed in the last 25 years. In 2020, an estimated 284 million people worldwide had used a drug in the past 12 months, a 26% increase from 2010.
The Mohawk Valley has not been immune to the overdose crisis. After three fatal overdoses in Utica, on June 1, 2023, Oneida County issued an overdose spike alert. Again on July 31, 2023, Oneida County issued an overdose spike alert on the heels of eight non-fatal overdoses and one fatality in a single weekend. An alert issued on August 14, 2023, focused on nine overdoses, one of which was fatal, between August 11th and 13th in the Utica/Rome area.
“The days of stigmatizing and abandoning people who use drugs must end. We must educate, support, and keep people alive so that they can make choices about their lives,” says ACR Health CEO Lisa Alford. “We must remove the stigma so that the friends and family of those who use drugs can be free from shame and we must provide harm reduction tools to empower them. International Overdose Awareness Day is one major step in the right direction.”
ACR Health is a not-or-profit, community-based organization providing an array of support services to individuals affected by a wide range of chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, with the goal of positive outcomes. ACR Health also offers navigation services to help individuals make informed health insurance decisions.
ACR Health has a Syringe Exchange program, a Drug User Health Hub, and provides a wide variety of targeted prevention and sexual health services to individuals, from youth through adulthood, and to community groups to empower them to make informed and responsible decisions.
ACR Health’s network of Q Centers and support groups are safe places for LGBTQ+ youth, their families, and allies to gather. Q Center programming seeks to promote equality, celebrate diversity, and create a safer, more affirming, and inclusive community for all.
Founded in 1983 as the CNY Health Crisis serving those with HIV/AIDS in Onondaga County, the organization evolved into ACR Health to respond to the changing HIV/AIDS crisis and meet the needs of more communities. Currently, ACR Health serves Cayuga, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties in New York State. ACR Health’s mission is to create healthy communities by opening doors to services that enhance the well-being of all.