COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Flags were ordered at half staff in Ohio in recognition of the first International Overdose Awareness Day.
Ohio Governor Mike Dewine signed a bill in June designating August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day.
Unintentional drug overdose is one of the leading causes of injury death in Ohio, surpassing motor vehicle crashes, according to RecoveryOhio.
From January through November of 2020, there were 4,579 unintentional drug overdose deaths reported. This is a 24% increase over 2019. Ohio’s medical and first responder communities attribute the increase primarily to fentanyl, a highly addictive and dangerous opioid.
Events were planned locally to honor overdose victims. In Warren, a program to honor overdose victims was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Elm Street at 7 p.m. Those who attended could get naloxone, an anti-overdose drug, and learn how to use it.
Also in Warren, an overdose vigil was held on Courthouse Square at 6:30 p.m. There was music, candle lighting and a remembrance board.
In Youngstown, a private event was planned at the Market Street Bridge beginning at 8 p.m., where there was a lantern release. Each lantern represented a loved one who died from a drug overdose. They also had a banner with the names and pictures of those who lost their lives to an overdose. The bridge was lit up purple for the event. It was a private event.
The Premier Bank building in downtown Youngstown was also lit up purple Tuesday night.
State Rep. Mike Loychik (R-Bazetta) announced he will introduce new legislation he said will help combat the drug epidemic.
The bill would require the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to collect and report data on drug and alcohol addiction services.
The department would be required to report the data quarterly along with an annual report to the General Assembly, the governor and the ADAMH Boards as well as online to the public.
“Currently, with the data that is being reported, we are not getting the full picture regarding drug and addiction services in Ohio. With overdose deaths escalating here in Trumbull County and throughout the state, I’m proposing this bill as another way to combat the drug epidemic,” Loychik said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths nationally increased by 30% last year.