Volusia group to host Overdose Awareness Day
By Victoria Villanueva-Marquez
Daytona Beach News-Journal USA TODAY NETWORK
People can pick up life-saving 'Narcan' when Volusia Recovery Alliance hosts its second annual 'Keeping Hope: Overdose Awareness and Remembrance Day' at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Daytona Beach Christian Drive-in Church, 3140 S. Atlantic Ave.
The drive-in event will commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day, and will acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends and remember those who have died from drug overdoses. Organizers hope the event will reduce the stigma of drug addiction by showing that recovery is possible and that overdoses can be prevented.
'We want to acknowledge that every person that has died from an overdose is someone's loved one and that that person goes way beyond the fact that they had substance use disorder,' said Karen Chrapek, board president of Volusia Recovery Alliance. 'We want to recognize that people have value way beyond the disease that they have.'
The event will feature several speakers, including Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Aaron Wohl, medical director of the Opioid Use Disorder treatment program for Lee Health Systems and board member of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians. Other speakers will talk about their own nonfatal overdoses.
Nicole Sharbono, vice president of Volusia County services for SMA Healthcare, said she hopes the event will encourage people with drug addiction to reach out for help amid the coronavirus pandemic. She, and other experts, have raised concerns about the recent increase in drug deaths in Volusia and Flagler counties during the coronavirus pandemic.
“One of the things that we're concerned about is the people who are out there struggling and not realizing that we're still providing all of the same services that we were providing prior to the pandemic or maybe they're fearful about reaching out because they don't want to go into detox or they don't want to go into a residential program and be around a lot of people,' she said. 'We know there are people struggling and not getting the help that they need right now, and this event is a peer-based event that people may be more inclined to go to.”
Attendees will be asked to remain in their cars and practice social distancing during See OVERDOSE, D7
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the event. Volunteers with face masks will approach cars to drop off gift bags that include the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, also known as Narcan. The gift bags will also include grief resources and information on drug addiction solutions.
There will also be a designated time to remember those who have died from drug overdoses. Some of their family members will give short reflections during the event.
For more information, visit the Facebook page for Volusia Recovery Alliance at facebook. com/VolusiaRecovery-Alliance/.
Karen Chrapek, board president of Volusia Recovery Alliance, holds a Narcan nasal spray kit, Wednesday. [[NEWSJOURNAL/ DAVID TUCKER]]