DEA Washington Division Commemorates International Overdose Awareness Day
Annual remembrance gains new importance as pandemic effects become clearer
Washington, D.C., - Today, on International Overdose Awareness Day, the DEA’s Washington Division will take time to honor those lives lost in the overdose epidemic, after a year when, sadly, more people than ever died from drug overdose. The DEA Washington Division, local Health Departments, and law enforcement partners across the area are holding memorials, trainings, and awareness events to remember the lives lost, celebrate the survivors of overdose, and empower local community members to prevent deadly overdoses in their communities.
“Just one life lost to drug-related overdose is too many,” said Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Washington Division. “It is critical that we prioritize this work – keeping deadly drugs like fentanyl from flooding our streets, educating people about these issues, working with our partners to make a difference, and getting out in the community and forming real connection – combatting this epidemic, head-on.”
The COVID-19 pandemic produced a multitude of conditions that fueled a concerning spike in overdose deaths across the U.S.: disconnection, job loss and economic uncertainty, increased stress and anxiety, and more. Behavioral health treatment and prevention experts are still seeing the effects of increased use of substances during the pandemic.
According to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020 more than 93,000 Americas died from drug overdose. This is a staggering 31% increase from the prior year, and the overdose death count increases in Maryland, the District, and Virginia were even higher. The DEA and it’s federal, state, and local partners have been working proactively across the area to combat this issue and reduce these tragic deaths in our communities.
“Parents, caregivers, family, friends: please talk to those you love about the dangers of drugs – from fentanyl to counterfeit pills ordered online. Keep them safe and informed,” SAC Forget bids. “And if someone you know suffers from addiction, we implore you to help them seek treatment. Although DEA will continue to bring these dealers of death to justice, we need your help to end this epidemic.”
DEA Washington Division and its law enforcement partners are continuing to work with countless families and advocates to raise awareness and stop the stigma surrounding substance use disorders. Learn more about overdose, hear stories of recovery and prevention, and connect with others in your community at https://storiesoverstigma.com/
If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA's National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for assistance, referral to addiction treatment services, and linkage to community-based overdose prevention resources.