BALTIMORE, MD (Friday, September 1, 2023) – Yesterday, Mayor Brandon Scott was joined by Councilwoman Danielle McCray (District 2), Councilwoman Odette Ramos (District 14), Baltimore City Health Department (BHCD) Acting Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller, Baltimore City Health Department Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention to host BCHD’s 8th Annual International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). Last year, more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses. To bring attention to the opioid epidemic, BCHD assembled two panel discussions at Red Emma’s Bookstore.
The first featured community members who have lost a loved one to overdose and mental health professionals, who shared stories of how grief impacts communities and their strategies to overcome loss. The second panel, featuring local celebrities and experts in the field, highlighted the impact of Hip-Hop culture on youth perceptions on the opioid epidemic and Baltimore City’s efforts to decrease youth related overdoses.
“We honor the lives of our neighbors who succumbed to drug addiction, while uplifting our efforts to prevent overdoses, increase awareness, and tackle this public health crisis in its entirety,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “International Overdose Awareness Day is a reminder that here in Baltimore, we lose roughly three times as many of our neighbors to overdoses than we do to gun violence in our city. However, the stigma and heartbreak that continues to surround addiction means that far too many of those lost loved ones never receive the attention they deserve. . It is our duty to tell their stories, to wrap our arms around their families and loved ones, and to spread awareness about the critical, life-saving services that are available to every Baltimorean who may be struggling.””
This event included a resource fair featuring organizations across the city, including Behavioral Health System Baltimore (BHSB), HealthCare Access Maryland (HCAM), the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety, the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, and Johns Hopkins University, among others.
“Drug overdose-related deaths continue to devastate the lives of far too many of our friends and families. That is why on International Overdose Awareness Day, we honor those who have passed by magnifying the steps we must take—as a city and community—to spare others from such irreversible harm and sustained grief,” said Baltimore City Health Department Acting Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller. “Drug abuse is not a moral failing. But failing to do everything we can to help save lives, is. That is why under Mayor Scott’s leadership, the Baltimore City Health Department, and our partners, continue to provide critical life-saving services so our loved ones have treatment options and can live much longer, happier, healthier lives.”
To further raise awareness to International Overdose Awareness Day, buildings—including City Hall and Johns Hopkins Bayview—will be illuminated in the color purple. To learn more about Baltimore City’s overdose prevention services and information, please visit BCHD’s website.