GRAND JUNCTION, Colo – Tuesday, August 31, 2021 is known as international Overdose Awareness Day. The awareness day is a global recognition aimed at raising awareness of overdose and reducing the stigma of drug related death.
In honor of Overdose Awareness Day, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Mesa County’s Opioid Response Group have erected 1,512 flags at Lincoln Park. Each flag represents Coloradans who lost their lives due to drug overdose. Of the over 1,500 flags, 1,474 purple flags represent people outside of Mesa County, and 38 white flags represent Mesa County residents who lost their lives.
Mesa County Opioid Response Group handed out resources to help individuals and families dealing with drug dependence.
St. Mary’s Medical Director, Dr. Ryan Jackman and a patient in sustained recovery who worked with Dr. Jackman were present at the flag presentation. “I think it is a wonderful thing to be able to talk about treatment, and if anything; good can come out of celebrating so much loss, and it is hope in recovery and there are more people living in our community in recovery then there are with active substance abuse disorder,” Dr. Jackman said.
Patient Trevor Dow, was also present at the flag presentation and shared his story of recovery, the risks of overdose, the importance of treatment and the challenges and benefits of recovery. “Being homeless and trying to be in recovery is difficult,” Dow said, “I am president at the Grand Valley House and we have beds available. I want to put that out there, if there is anybody out there that is in Mesa County and they are homeless and trying to be sober, give us a call.”
In 2020, nearly 93,000 people succumbed to drug overdose nationwide. According to Mesa County coroner-based data, there was more than 70% increase in deaths related to drug overdose in the county between 2019 and 2020.