(Washington, DC) – Today, the Bowser Administration, led by the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), is recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day by participating in events across the District to raise awareness about and to prevent opioid-related overdose deaths. DBH is also releasing LIVE.LONG.DC. 2.0, an update to the District’s strategic plan to reduce opioid use, misuse, and related deaths.
“We commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day to spread the message that overdose deaths are preventable. This day is especially important this year as we double down on our work to prevent opioid use and misuse and fight the surge of opioid-related deaths,” said DBH Director Dr. Barbara J. Bazron. “We also remember without stigma or blame those who have died and raise awareness that effective treatment for the disease of addiction is available and every day people recover.”
LIVE.LONG.DC, first released in December 2018, offers a comprehensive look at prevention, treatment, and recovery, detailing the District’s goals and accompanying approaches to end DC’s opioid epidemic. LIVE.LONG.DC. 2.0 builds on effective strategies from the previous plan and adopts new strategies based on an evolving understanding of the best ways to combat the opioid epidemic using an equity and culturally competent lens. Work already has begun to implement the modified plan.
The modified plan includes 1) greater focus on saving lives from opioid overdoses by increasing the distribution of lifesaving naloxone and other harm reduction activities 2) stronger integration of peers with lived experience proven to be effective in encouraging people to get into and stay in treatment 3) better coordination of treatment and supports to sustain recovery tailored to individual needs 4) engagement with vulnerable populations, including pregnant and parenting individuals, youth and young adults, and residents of skilled nursing facilities, and 5) better use of data to take services directly to residents and target areas with spikes in overdoses for immediate action.
On International Overdose Awareness Day, DBH is highlighting accomplishments in two key goals in the plan—the expanded availability of naloxone and increased access to medication assisted treatment.
Expanded Access to Naloxone
Since October of last year through July, 40,057 naloxone kits have been distributed compared to 31,917 kits in the previous fiscal year. There were 2,074 successful reported reversals with naloxone. Naloxone is available at no cost, with no ID or prescription required. The District makes naloxone widely available the following ways:
- 43 locations including pharmacies and community-based sites in all eight wards to pick up naloxone
- Seven faith-based institutions and four peer-operated centers served as distribution sites
- At least 10 new certified naloxone distribution sites will become available each year, and 28 sites were brought on in 2021.
- Text “LiveLongDC” to 888-811 for pick up locations or to request
- By mail
- By delivery to your home
- Outreach teams deployed to areas with a reported spike in overdoses to distribute naloxone and treatment information
- DBH Mobile Van travels weekly to targeted communities
- 24/7 Community Response Team
- New pizza box covers and coffee sleeves to promote the availability of naloxone
Increased Access to Medication Assisted Treatment (Medication for Opioid Use Disorder)
The District has increased access to medication assisted treatment (medication for opioid use disorder) in community hospitals, community clinics, and the DC Jail. Specifically, treatment is available in:
- Six community hospital emergency departments for overdose survivors or those at risk
- Eight community health clinics, including Unity Health Care
- Three DBH-certified methadone providers and certified substance use disorder providers
- Medication Assisted Treatment in the DC Jail, and a
- New substance use disorder treatment unit for women in the DC Jail. A treatment unit for men is scheduled to open in the fall.
- Free transportation to and from treatment.
Today’s events include outreach in targeted communities, storytelling, panel discussions, and naloxone training and distribution. For a full list of today’s events, visit https://livelong.dc.gov/page/news-and-events-0. Read the full LIVE.LONG.DC. plan here.