Press Release  | 08/30/2012

On International Overdose Awareness Day, Family and Friends of Overdose Victims, Advocates, Call on State to Take Action to Address Overdose as Number One Cause of Accidental Death in New York

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At Formal Press Conference at City Hall,  Family and Friends, Advocates Send Message to State Agencies Urging Wide-Spread Public Education About 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Law

Following Press Conference, Advocates, Friends and Family to March and Hold Vigil at One Police Plaza to Remember Loved Ones Lost to Overdose; Urge Police to Publically Commit to Saving Lives by Not Arresting People for Possessing Drugs if They Call 911 During Overdose

NEW YORK – On August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day, family and friends of overdose victims , elected officials, advocates, and harm reduction and treatment providers will convene a press conference on the steps of City Hall, followed by a march to One Police Plaza to remember those lost to preventable drug overdose. New York is one of dozens of locations around the country and abroad participating in the 12th annual International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31. The day honors and remembers those who have lost their lives to an overdose. The occasion is also an opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about the growing global overdose crisis and to offer concrete solutions that save lives.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall, advocates and those impacted by overdose are asking New York government agencies for greater education about overdose prevention and proper implementation of the 911 Good Samaritan fatal overdose prevention law. Last year, a 911 Good Samaritan Law was enacted in New York state, providing limited immunity from arrest and prosecution for victims and witnesses who call 911 during a perceived drug overdose even if they possess small amounts of drugs or alcohol. This law was passed nearly unanimously in Albany, but its implementation, including wide dissemination of materials educating the public about preventable drug overdose and the 911 Good Samaritan law, has been slow. Advocates contend that, without more education about this law, more people will needlessly die from  overdose. Additionally, advocates call on New York state to expand its program of training those at-risk of overdose and equipping them with the opioid reversal drug, Narcan, also known as naloxone.

Following the press conference, friends and family will march and hold a vigil at One Police Plaza and demand that police publicly commit to not arresting people for possession of drugs in overdose situations. Studies found that the number one reason that people delayed or did not call for medical help was fear of criminal justice involvement. By publicly supporting the 911 Good Samaritan overdose prevention law and committing to overdose prevention education, the police will send a message to those in overdose situations that it is okay to call 911 to save lives.

What: Press conference, march and vigil to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day and urge public education about overdose prevention

When: Friday, August 31st  2012, AT NOON

Where: City Hall Steps, 250 Broadway, Manhattan, Take the 4, 5, J, M, Z trains to Brooklyn Bridge, R, W train to City Hall

Who: Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, New York City Council Stephen Levin, New York Harm Reduction Educators, Exponents, Community Health Action of Staten Island, St. Anne’s Corner of Harm Reduction, CitiWide Harm Reduction, Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, FROST’D, Washington Heights CORNER Project, Harm Reduction Coalition, Vocal New York, Drug Policy Alliance

Jeremy Saunders, VOCAL NY, 917-676-8041 or Evan Goldstein, Drug Policy Alliance, 917-349-6267

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