ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan yesterday announced that all flags in Maryland will be flown at half-staff today in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day. The occasion is observed annually on August 31st in remembrance of people around the world who have lost their lives to drug overdose and to help raise awareness regarding the substance use crisis.

“The disease of addiction affects all Maryland communities, and I invite all Marylanders to join me in honoring the lives we have lost to this crisis,” said Governor Hogan. “It is also important that we lift up the stories of those in recovery. We know that treatment and recovery work, and it is my sincerest hope raising awareness will help others on their recovery journeys.”

This evening, Government House in Annapolis will be lit purple this evening to mark the occasion. Governor Hogan also issued a proclamation recognizing September as Substance Use Disorder Recovery Month.

In addition to honoring individuals who died of an overdose, International Overdose Awareness Day and Substance Use Disorder Recovery Month are intended to help decrease the stigma surrounding addiction and to increase awareness of resources available to individuals living with substance use disorders. The State of Maryland recently released its strategy for addressing overdose mortality, one of the key goals of which is to expand access to naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses. Maryland also recently enacted legislation that would make naloxone easier to access by increasing distribution efforts in impacted communities.

Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, chair of the Inter-Agency Heroin and Opioid Coordinating Council will present a proclamation commemorating International Overdose Awareness Day during an event today at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City.

“For nearly eight years our administration has worked tirelessly alongside the community to support individuals and their families battling addiction, with the purpose of saving lives and creating a brighter future for the next generation,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “I encourage all Marylanders to come together as we honor those we have lost, and create an open community for all those living with substance use disorders or in treatment and recovery to share their stories”

“Losing a loved one to a drug overdose is devastating and the loss remains forever,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on those with substance use disorders, and today is a reminder to reach out to anyone who is struggling to help them get the support they need, and help prevent further drug overdose deaths in Maryland.”

“One of the things we heard the most when visiting with communities across Maryland is about the need to uplift those in treatment and recovery,” said Robin Rickard, executive director of Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center. “So, while we honor and remember the loved ones we have lost today, we must also continue to support those who are living with the disease of addiction. One life lost to a preventable overdose is one too many.”

Marylanders who are struggling with substance use disorders are encouraged to call the national crisis hotline, 988. The hotline can help people find treatment services, support groups, and other behavioral health resources available closest to them. 

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