Washington, DC – Today, the Bowser Administration, led by the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), is recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day by promoting free life-saving resources and announcing a new public education campaign to encourage treatment and sustained recovery for those suffering from opioid addiction. “This Time, It’s Different” is an initiative of LIVE.LONG.DC. 2.0, the District’s strategic plan to reduce opioid use and misuse and opioid-related deaths. DBH is also promoting the increased access to harm reduction tools as well as participating in events across the District to raise awareness on the prevention of opioid-related overdose deaths.
“We want people in the community to know that we have free resources and treatment available, and we also have teams of specialists who want to help you,” said Mayor Bowser. “Whether you are someone looking to access treatment, a neighbor who wants to be ready to save a life, or a friend or family member who is trying to help a loved one – we are ready to support you.”
DBH’s new public education campaign “This Time, It’s Different” encourages residents who have tried to stop using opioids to try again. Research shows that people drop out of treatment without completion at a high rate and are unable to maintain recovery. The new campaign highlights DBH’s comprehensive treatment services and supports to sustain long-term recovery that includes:
- Free substance use disorder treatment and counseling available seven days a week at sites across the District;
- Medication assisted treatment to help manage cravings and treat addiction in community-based substance-use disorder treatment clinics, community health clinics, and community hospitals;
- Three DBH-certified methadone providers;
- Free transportation to and from counseling and treatment appointments;
- Recovery housing and other support services;
- Peer counselors who have been there and provide support to stay in treatment and recovery;
- Enhanced care coordination for treatment for physical as well as behavioral health disorders so that individuals receive comprehensive care, and
- Medication assisted treatment in the DC Jail to maintain uninterrupted care for those who may become involved with the criminal justice system.
In addition to the new campaign, DBH is doubling down on harm reduction strategies proven to prevent overdose deaths with widely available Naloxone and increased access to fentanyl test strips. DBH distributes free Naloxone in more than 31 pharmacies and 120 community-based locations in all eight wards – no prescription or ID required. Last year, DBH and its partners distributed 56,810 Naloxone kits, a 78% increase over the year before. This summer, DBH and its partners are expanding distribution of free fentanyl test strips, which can detect the presence of this deadly synthetic in other drugs. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports the presence of fentanyl in 96% of overdose deaths.
Anyone can text “LiveLongDC” to 888-811 for pick-up locations for Naloxone or fentanyl test strips. Naloxone, which has reversed hundreds of overdoses, can also be mailed or delivered at no charge.
“We commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day to spread the message that overdose deaths are preventable,” said DBH Director Barbara J. Bazron, Ph.D. “We also remember without stigma or blame those who have died from the disease of addiction and raise awareness that effective treatment is available, and every day people recover.”
To access treatment available day or night, residents can text “Ready” to 888-811 and get a list of treatment sites that are open at that moment.
Finally, on International Overdose Awareness Day, Dr. Bazron is participating in community outreach events across the District:
- Naloxone distribution by the Nevertheless Outreach Ministries from 10 am to 12 pm at the corner of South Dakota Avenue and Bladensburg Road, NE
- An information fair and Naloxone distribution conducted by the Wards 1 and 2 DC Prevention Center from 12 pm to 2 pm in Franklin Park
- A panel discussion and vigil at 5:30 pm at THEARC at Mississippi Avenue, SE sponsored by the Health Alliance Network and the DC Recovery Community Alliance
- A spoken word service themed “You Are Not Alone” from 5:30 pm to 8 pm at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest
- A preview of the documentary “Tipping the Pain Scale” at 6 pm at American University
For a full list of International Overdose Awareness Day events happening in the District, visit bit.ly/3QYouYK.
DBH offers a full range of behavioral health services. To learn more, call the 24-hour Access Helpline at 1-888-793-4357. Read the full LIVE.LONG.DC. plan here.