Tuesday, August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, and several community groups will host an all-day event at the Missoula County Courthouse to enhance public awareness.

KGVO spoke with Leah Fitch-Brody, Substance Use Disorder Prevention Coordinator and facilitator of the Prescription Drug Task Force at the Missoula City County Health Department about the event.

“International Overdose Awareness Day is Tuesday, August 3,” said Fitch-Brody. “They do events all over the world, in the U.S. and in Missoula. We're going to be doing an event down at the courthouse where we're going to be raising awareness around the increase in overdoses that we've had in our community. We saw a 77% increase in overdoses last year in 2020, and we're also seeing a high rate here in 2021.”

Fitch-Brody provided more details of the event that will run from noon to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the County Courthouse.

“We are going to be giving out lots of information down there,” she said. “We're going to be doing some training on what to do if you come across someone experiencing an overdose , and how to handle that situation. There are also some other resources in town if you know somebody who may be experiencing an addiction, as well as ways to honor people that we've already lost.”

Fitch-Brody said those who attend the event will receive doses of Narcan that may save the life of an overdose victim.

“Narcan or Naloxone is a life saving drug that can be given to anybody who you may suspect experienced an overdose,” she said. “It's actually something that anybody can have and actually should have, especially if you've come across somebody who may have overdosed. Unfortunately, one of the reasons that we've seen an uptick in overdose is that fentanyl, which is a really strong opioid, has been added to various drugs and people may inadvertently be taking that without knowing it. And only three grains of sand worth of fentanyl can actually kill you.”

Fitch-Brody said the all day event will also stretch into the night to raise awareness about overdose .

“We'll be down there from noon to eight,” she said. “We'll be there getting information out and then from 8:00 p.m. to 10:p.m. the courthouse will be lit up in purple in honor of those that we've lost in our community. They're lighting the courthouse in purple as well as over at UM’s Main Hall. It will also be lit up in purple.”

Nationwide, there were 93,331 deaths from drug overdoses in 2020, according to the CDC. This is a record high and represents the sharpest annual increase in at least three decades. In Missoula County, in 2020, overdose death went up 77%, increasing from 13 deaths in 2019 to 23 deaths in 2020.


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