On International Overdose Day, Help Those Suffering From Addiction

Thursday August 31, 2017

On August 31, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) joins people around the world to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day. GMHC encourages all individuals to commit to supporting people suffering from addiction, and to raise public awareness to prevent more individuals from losing their lives to this staggering epidemic.

The United States is in the midst of a true opioid overdose epidemic. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with more than 52,400 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. More than 20,000 overdose deaths were related to prescription pain relievers, and nearly 13,000 overdose deaths were related to heroin.

And while the United States makes up approximately 6 percent of the world's population, it accounts for nearly 25 percent of the world's overdose deaths, according to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2017 World Drug Report.

At GMHC, we are aggressively responding to the growing epidemic of opioid overdose by educating people about the perils of addiction and offering a safe space for individuals in the recovery process. We strive to eliminate the stigma associated with substance use by talking openly about addiction as a disease and treating it as such.

Through our New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Article 32 licensed outpatient substance abuse clinic, we are utilizing a harm reduction philosophy to engage individuals who are actively abusing substances and helping them avoid the devastating effects of chronic use of alcohol and drugs, including opiates.

Additionally, GMHC was recently registered by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) as an Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and has received funding to expand the services offered under this designation. Staff within this program will work to train other staff, clients, and community members on the use of Narcan (Naloxone) to reverse opioid overdose as well as to distribute Naloxone kits to all trainees.

It is our hope that by educating the community we serve and providing them with the necessary resources to reduce high-risk behaviors and associated consequences, we can decrease the incidence of overdose in New York City and help all individuals we serve to live long and fulfilling lives.

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is the nation's leading provider of HIV and AIDS care, prevention services, and advocacy, serving nearly 10,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City, the epicenter of the epidemic in the U.S.

As the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization, GMHC is an expert in providing services that every person affected by the epidemic deserves. GMHC is on the front lines caring for people who are both HIV negative and positive, including testing, nutrition, legal, mental health and education services. GMHC also advocates for stronger public policies at the local, state and federal level with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020.

Most recently, GMHC and other HIV and AIDS organizations successfully persuaded the federal government to recommend widespread use of PrEP, a new daily treatment that is over 90 percent effective in preventing HIV infection.

For more information, visit www.gmhc.org.