Purple flags mark those lost to overdose deaths

You’ve seen them. Small purple flags adorn the lawns or grass out front of homes and buildings or fields. In many places, each flag represents an individual lost due to a drug overdose this year.

International Overdose Awareness Day, observed Wednesday, is the global annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

It is a time to remember, and a time to act.

The campaign raises awareness of overdose, which is one of the world’s worst public health crises, stimulates action and discussion about evidence-based overdose prevention and drug policy, and spreads the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose is preventable.

The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day are:

  • To provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.
  • To include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events, and encourage non-denominational involvement.
  • To give community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.
  • To send a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued.
  • To stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
  • To provide basic information on the range of support services that are available.
  • To prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.
  • To inform people around the world about the risk of overdose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, drug overdose deaths in the country are on the upswing, with an estimated 100,306 overdose deaths in the U.S. during the 12-month period ending in April 2021.

Towns, health care facilities, businesses and individuals, as well as countless other outlets, are marking the day in various ways from events, tributes and donations, plus more.

Egg Harbor Township-based AtlantiCare is hosting a free Narcan distribution event in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pharmacists and recovery specialists will be at the following AtlantiCare Pharmacy locations:

  • Atlantic City Regional Medical Center, City Campus, 1925 Pacific Ave., Atlantic City;
  • AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Mainland Campus, 65 W. Jimmie Leeds Road, Pomona.

Walk-ins are welcome. No registration is required. Distribution will be one per customer while supplies last.

To view the state Department of Health Overdose Data Dashboard, click here.

To view the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner’s Public Data Dashboard, click here.