Ending the stigma around drug-related deaths and more community education will be the focus of a free International Overdose Awareness Day event in Bendigo on August 30.
Bendigo Community Health Services and The Salvation Army will host the event in the Bendigo Library Gardens from 11am to 2pm with support from the Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO), Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative, Thorne Harbour Health and Ambulance Victoria.
The event will provide the community with a chance to talk to qualified alcohol and other drugs staff about the risk of overdose, how to respond, life-saving medication Naloxone, drug and alcohol services in Bendigo and remember loved ones or friends in a safe environment.
The Salvation Army will provide a free barbecue.
Coroner’s Court of Victoria figures show Bendigo had 18 heroin-related overdose deaths from 2014 to 2018 with only Geelong recording more at a regional level.
BCHS Alcohol and Other Drugs Team Manager Jan Dunlop said community education was an important element of International Overdose Awareness Day.
“It’s a common belief that illegal drugs such as heroin cause most overdoses but the rates involving prescribed medications are higher. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol can all cause overdose and the risk increases when different drugs are taken together,” Ms Dunlop said.
“Many deaths and permanent injuries caused by overdose are accidental and preventable.
“Naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of any opioid drug with no side effects and Bendigo Community Health Services can provide a free script for this life-saving medication.
“These are the type of important messages we need to get out into the community through events such as International Overdose Awareness Day.”
Ms Dunlop said there was still much work needed in the community to reduce the stigma surrounding drug-related deaths.
“Loved ones, families, friends and communities are deeply affected by any overdose death and are then forced to manage their grief with the added burden of the stigma associated with drug use. This can affect their ability to mourn publicly without feeling guilt or shame. This is something we must change,” Ms Dunlop said.
The Bendigo International Overdose Awareness Day event will focus on:
- Raising awareness of overdose risks, prevention strategies and how to respond to an overdose, including the availability and administration of life-saving medication Naloxone.
- Reducing stigma and myths around drug use.
- Raising awareness about Bendigo services that provide confidential advice and help with behaviour change and how to access them.
- Acknowledging the grief of those affected by an overdose death.
International Overdose Awareness Day originated in Melbourne in 2001 with more than 500 events now held across the world each year.
To learn more about Bendigo Community Health Services and our programs visit www.bchs.com.au or call (03) 5406 1200.