More than 70,000 people died in the United States from opioid overdoses in 2017, up from 17,000 in 1999. Thousands more suffer grave injuries from overdoses, with devastating impacts on their families and friends.
Flagler County is not immune: local law enforcement routinely respond to overdose calls or related calls that result in Baker Acts, and with incidents sometimes affecting children. Shadowing the crisis locally is a grievous lack of local services and treatment options.
International Overdose Awareness Day provides an opportunity to reflect on practical ways to prevent overdose in the community. Overdose is preventable. Knowing the real facts about drugs and what to do when you see someone experiencing an overdose does save lives.
Bunnell’s Open Door Recovery and Re-entry Ministries, a transitional home for former convicts and addicts, is hosting a candlelight vigil on August 31 at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Flagler Beach, starting at 7 p.m. The event gives residents an opportunity to help Flagler County remember and recognize losses suffered locally. Invite your friends and family. (Questions? Call Kim Carney at 386-846-5493.)
The day before, on Aug. 30, Luis Garcia, a retired firefighter-paramedic, will be in Flagler Beach from 11:30 am to 1:30 p.m. to provide free Narcan to individuals who pre-register and attend the training session. Narcan is a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdoses by restoring breathing patterns. Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics are all equipped with doses. Sheriff’s deputies administered Narcan 44 times last year. Paramedics did so 151 times, though not always in connection with overdoses as the spray is used as a diagnostic tool for other issues.
Garcia travels around the country providing free Narcan to individuals to use to help save a life, visiting five states in 23 months and teaching no fewer than 118 two-hour classes. He’s donated some 3,300 doses of Narcan thanks to various contributions, and speaks of the effort having led to 136 lives saved.
You can also post photos of your loved ones on the Flagler Countywide Opioid Task Force Facebook page, so their names may be read at the vigil.