COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — At the Ohio Statehouse, along with other public buildings across the state, flags were flown half-mast on Aug. 31 as part of Ohio’s Overdose Awareness Day, designated by Senate Bill 30 in 2021.

As part of Overdose Awareness Day, RecoveryOhio launched a new website so Ohioans can have free access to naloxone, used to reverse opioid overdoses.

“We know that naloxone is a lifesaving drug,” said Aimee Shadwick, Interim Director of RecoveryOhio.

In 2019, 6,981 naloxone units were distributed in Ohio, according to RecoveryOhio and Ohio’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. This year, there have been 114,544 distributed.

Courtesy Graphic/RecoveryOhio.

“Had those folks not had access to naloxone, they potentially would be a life we’re remembering today,” Shadwick said.

Lori Criss from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services said across the U.S. and in Ohio, fentanyl has increasingly become part of the drug supply, contributing to opioid deaths.

“In Ohio, we’ve had over 5000 people die of overdose death annually for the past couple of years,” Criss said. “These are record numbers and it’s preventable.”

Criss said it is not all bad news. She said this past year, Ohio’s naloxone distribution effort has helped change the tide.

“We’re seeing a decrease in the rate of overdose death over the last 12 months compared to where we were before,” Criss said. “And we’re one of only six states doing that.”

“Take it one day at a time, one moment at a time,” Shadwick said. “But know that there’s hope and lots of treatment resources across the state.”

If you or someone you know is struggling from drug addiction, there are many resources:

  • Text the free, 24/7, confidential crisis line: Text ‘4hope’ to 741-741. You can also ask to be connected to a Spanish-speaking counselor. More details about how this line works can be found here.
  • Call or text the 24/7 suicide and crisis lifeline: Dial 988 to connect with a trained counselor who can help you find the best next step for you. More details about how this line works can be found here.