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HomeLocal NewsState GovernmentToo many, too often: National Overdose Prevention Day 

Too many, too often: National Overdose Prevention Day 

By: Patrick Flannery
Representative, State of Kentucky

August 31 marks International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose and a time set aside to remember loved ones who have died from drug overdose as well as acknowledge the toll it has taken on family, friends, and our society.

Unfortunately, the discussion surrounding drug overdose is one that lies close to home for too many people. So prevalent are the horrors of drug abuse, finding someone who has not witnessed the trials of addiction in someone they love proves to be a difficult task. The leading cause of death for people ages 18-45 in the United States, drug overdose is undoubtedly a severe crisis. And, it is why my colleagues and I are dedicated in our effort to address this difficult conversation head-on.

While cognizant of the tough road ahead in continuing the fight against drug addiction, today is for honoring those we have lost to the battle, showing our support for the families who have experienced this pain, and bringing awareness to the dangers involved with drug use. For these families, it is burdensome simply dealing with the stigma associated with an overdose in the family. So today, I ask that you lift up the folks struggling with these issues and support them in the healthiest way possible. This could take the form of a silent prayer, showing gratitude to the healthcare workers fighting to prevent overdose deaths, or studying the support mechanisms available for struggling individuals.

Mitigating and eventually eliminated the drug crisis has been at the forefront of the legislature’s efforts. Whether it be decriminalizing fentanyl test strips, limiting unnecessary painkiller prescriptions, taking a tougher stance with drug dealers, or investing the money Kentucky is receiving as part of the opioid settlement into programs that target drug abuse, we must take action to win this fight.

Overcoming the drug epidemic, like any crisis, requires reflection on how far we have come, but also how far we must go. I was pleased to hear the news earlier this year regarding the decline in drug overdose deaths in 2022 from the previous year, which marks the first decline in four years. The numbers show that new prevention efforts are working, but also affirm that continued support and focus is necessary. I constantly aim to educate myself on effective treatments and solutions in order to craft legislation that is specifically targeted at reducing harmful drugs in our communities. But this is a team effort.

I encourage my constituents this Overdose Awareness Day to make themselves aware of signs of addiction, the steps to be taken in the event of an overdose, and the complexity of this issue. No one location is safe from the poisons that are harmful substances. Drug overdose can culminate through various routes, and harmful drugs can take power in many ways. In Kentucky, the largest portion of resident overdose deaths involved opioids, and fentanyl-related deaths have risen exponentially in recent years. I promise to continue the fight in Frankfort to change these disturbing trends – this is a team effort.

If you or a loved one are struggling, please reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

As always, I can be reached anytime through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Patrick.Flannery@lrc.ky.gov. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky legislature’s home page at legislature.ky.gov



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