More than 68,000 people in the United States alone lost their lives to overdose last year. This is what a public health crisis looks like. Our children, sisters, brothers, friends, and neighbors are dying, and the most tragic part is that it’s preventable — but only if we work together to get our priorities in order. Law Enforcement Action Partnership speakers are doing just that.
On August 31, people around the world will come together to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day, remembering those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose. By educating people about overdose and working to end the stigma that surrounds drug use, we’re taking important steps in the right direction.
What comes next? We need to change the way we treat those who use drugs or struggle with addiction.
Overdose is a global problem, but the solution starts in our own communities. We have to stop arresting people who use or misuse drugs. We have to get behind harm reduction efforts that offer help to those who need it. We have to support diversion and syringe access programs, make naloxone widely available, and establish overdose prevention centers where people can go to use drugs under medical supervision — these programs save lives and protect public safety. There are roughly 100 overdose prevention centers (also known as supervised injection sites) around the world, and not a single person has died of an overdose in their care. There are no such facilities in the United States. Not one.
LEAP speakers are leading the charge to fight overdose on a local level by advocating for programs with proven success rates and focusing on realistic, compassionate solutions that preserve human dignity.
If we don’t come together to support harm reduction, this epidemic will continue to grow. People will die. Families will lose everything. Communities will suffer. We need to get on the same page and realize that we need to fight addiction with compassion, and prevent overdose not through blindly preaching abstinence, but through realistic safeguards and by removing the stigma from drug use. We need to be able to have these conversations if we expect to find life-saving solutions. It’s time to move past fear and judgement to a place of practical understanding and community investment.
We’re all in this together — let’s work to end overdose by pushing for real, workable solutions. It’s one of the most important ways we can honor those we’ve lost.
The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is a nonprofit group of police, judges, prosecutors, and other justice system professionals who use their expertise to promote evidence-based solutions to public safety problems. To keep our speakers at the forefront of criminal justice reform, we need your help. Donate here.