By Julene Reese
International Overdose Awareness Day, held annually on Aug. 31, recognizes those who have died from an overdose and acknowledges the grief of the family and friends left behind. The awareness day focuses on ways to provide support, education and understanding of what has become a public health crisis.
Maren Wright Voss, USU Extension health and wellness professor, said part of overdose prevention is understanding its need and raising awareness since Utah has been among the states with the highest overdose rates.
“Opioids and overdose are community-wide problems that can impact anyone,” she said. “For instance, if an elderly person accidentally takes an extra dose of pain medication, knowing how to administer Naloxone, a medicine that reverses an opioid overdose, could save their life.”
Voss said that just like a cancer walk, “A Light to Remember” allows communities to unite, show support and receive education.
“In remembering those we have lost, we remember why we need to make things different for our future mothers, fathers, children and friends,” she said.
Ten free events in counties around the state provide an opportunity to honor and show community support for those who need hope, healing and recovery. It can also help those experiencing a substance use disorder (SUD) and friends and family who have supported someone with a SUD. The events are made possible through USU Health Extension and multiple community partnerships in each location, including recovery communities, prevention coalitions, and health departments.
Luminary celebrations are held Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the following locations and times:
* Cache/Box Elder counties – Cache County Fairgrounds, Logan, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Carbon/Emery counties – Huntington State Park, Huntington, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Salt Lake County – Utah State Capitol South Steps, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Duchesne County – Central Park Pavilion, Roosevelt, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Grand County – Rotary Park, Moab, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
* Weber County – Ogden Botanical Gardens, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Sevier County – Richfield City Park, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
* South Salt Lake County – Wheeler Historic Farm, Murray, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
* Washington County – Utah Tech University, St. George, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
* Tooele County – Stansbury Park Clubhouse, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For those who would like to be part of the movement but are not able to participate in person, a complimentary “Remember at Home kit” is available. Visit Remember at Home to order.
A statewide moment of silence will be held at 9 p.m. on Aug. 31 and will be fed live to Facebook pages from most locations.