The annual International Overdose Awareness Day took place this year on both the University of Montana campus and in front of the Missoula County Courthouse on Aug. 31.
At both locations, stands and tables were set up in front of Main Hall and at the county courthouse with information and resources on how to prevent, or save, someone from an overdose.
At one of the stands outside the county courthouse, Leah Fitch-Brody, Substance Use Disorder Prevention coordinator, handed out fentanyl testing strips, provided by All Nations Health Center, while Open Aid Alliance gave out Narcan, or Naloxone, while also teaching people how to use Narcan if they ever came across someone experiencing an opioid overdose. Fitch-Brody said that more teenagers are “inadvertently” consuming fentanyl and overdosing.
Students on campus with the Students for Sensible Drug Policy organization also set up an information table with resources and information for the campus community. Vibrantly decorated informational cards on different types of drugs were placed across the table for students to take, along with Narcan.
Kyle Yoder, leader of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, along with Michael Layeux were handing out resources advocating for the prevention of overdose in front of Main Hall.
“I would be dead if the drugs were the same as they are now when I was 19. You never know what’s actually in the drugs you could be taking these days,” Layeux said.
In Missoula, 91 people have died due to overdoses from 2016 to now, according to Fitch-Brody. Back in 2020, 23 deaths were recorded and currently in 2021 there have been 15 known deaths so far, she said. Since 2019, the number of overdose deaths has increased 77%, she said.