You may have noticed purple lights, purple logos, and purple décor adorning businesses and organizations across our Eastern Shore. The change isn’t about aesthetics. It’s about bringing awareness to an epidemic of substance abuse, particularly related to opioid usage, and sending a message of hope for help and recovery.
The opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The epidemic grew out of the over-prescribing of opioid pain medications which would later be found to be highly addictive. Before being declared an epidemic, in 2016 42,000 deaths in our country were related to opioid overdose.
As with anywhere else in our country, our local communities are plagued by this public health crisis. Our public health agencies, local businesses, and community leaders have taken a stand for this reason. They are coming together in a united front to address the crisis and impact the people who need to hear their message.
You might be wondering what you can do to lend to the healing of our community and support of this awareness event. Here are some options:
Talk about substance use with friends and family regarding prevention, intervention, and recovery to increase awareness and understanding.
Go purple, too. Choose a day for office staff to all wear purple, light up your home or business in solidarity, or reach out to one of your local go purple initiatives for direction and resources.
Get trained to administer Naloxone in response to overdose. Trainings are being offered in many local areas at no cost to participants.
Know, understand, and share with others about the Good Samaritan Laws. These are designed to encourage intervention in overdoses without the fear of arrest related to certain crimes that may have once been a barrier to seeking help for persons overdosing. These vary by state.
Join the events. September is National Recovery Month and awareness events are plentiful. One such event in Wicomico is happening September 10th with a boat parade and resource fair.
As a therapist who treats co-occurring disorders (substance use and mental illness occurring together) I cannot emphasize enough the importance of local campaigns like this one. The more awareness that is brought to the topic of substance use and abuse and the treatment of it, the better our community will be able to heal. By bringing education and understanding of substance use disorders, the stigma against them can be reduced. Reduced stigma means people will be more likely to seek help rather than hiding in shame they should not have to feel.
Recovery is possible. Your community wants to help. Reduce the stigma and stand up against the opioid epidemic with your local communities here on the Lower Eastern Shore.
Public Affairs. “What Is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?” HHS.gov, Last Reviewed 4 Sept. 2019, https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html.
“Wicomico Goes Purple Boat Parade and Resource Fair.” Wicomico Goes Purple, 2019, https://wicomicogoespurple.com/events/wicomico-goes-purple-boat-parade-and-resource-fair