Coalition for Overdose Awareness & Recovery prepares for Aug. 31 walk

Although its name has changed, the goals of the Adams County Coalition for Overdose Awareness and Recovery have not.

Formerly the Overdose Awareness Task Force, the coalition’s goal is to increase naloxone availability to save lives, reduce the stigma of addiction, and bring hope to those who suffer from addiction and those close to them.

“Any overdose death is a tragedy in Adams County because each of our residents matters–as a family member, community member, and person.  At this time, the group has decided that ‘coalition’ is really a better term for where we are headed, but we will continue our strong partnerships with community agencies including law enforcement and county agencies,” said Andrea Dolges, Executive Director, Center for Youth and Community Development.

Gettysburg’s fifth annual memorial walk will take place Aug. 31 at 6 p.m., beginning at the Adams County Courthouse and ending at the Gettysburg Rec Park’s Firemans’ Pavilion where local individuals and community representatives will speak to the issue. The event will mark International Overdose Awareness Day which focuses on creating a better understanding of overdose, reducing the stigma of drug-related deaths, and creating change that reduces the risk of harm associated with drug use.

While the annual walk is a memorial to those who have lost loved ones to drug addiction, this year’s emphasis will be on those left behind, including grieving family and friends, healthcare and support services employees, and first responders, who are often left alone to bear the burden of the crisis. “We’re saying, ‘we see you’ and we can get through it by being together,” said Lisa Lindsey, Data & Prevention Specialist at the Center for Youth & Community Development.

Free Naloxone kits will be available at the event. Naloxone is frequently delivered through a nasal spray and rapidly reverses an opioid overdose by restoring normal breathing in overdoses of opioids including heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine.

The statistics in Adams County for 2022 were five overdose deaths, a dramatic improvement from the prior two years of 17 and 15 deaths respectively. Naloxone has been credited internationally with reducing overall overdose deaths.

Dolges believes that Adams County continues to be supportive of its people. “This is really a grassroots effort, supported by leadership, to empower the community to help people struggling with substance use which is a symptom or result of other issues affecting our neighbors.  A person isn’t an addiction and people can move on and be productive members of our community.”

Dolges emphasized that addiction is a disease or an indicator of something traumatic that has happened in a person’s life.

Coordinated by Lindsey, the coalition meets on the third Tuesday of each month through Zoom or at 233 West High St.

The group prioritizes:

  • Increased access and utilization of naloxone to save lives.
  • A continuum of care available from early intervention through sustained recovery for every person in Adams County.
  • Reduced supply of available opioids in the county.
  • Information on signs of a substance or opioid use disorder, treatment options, and recovery programs available in the community.
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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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