CONTACT: Mariah McGough, Mariah@vocal-ky.org, 203-470-9979
WE NEED ACTION NOW: NEW ROADMAP TO END OVERDOSE AHEAD OF INTERNATIONAL OVERDOSE AWARENESS DAY
LOUISVILLE, K.Y. — Today at a press conference, organizations at the forefront of combating the overdose crisis unveiled a roadmap with evidence-based policies and solutions for Louisville Metro Government elected officials to address the alarming number of preventable overdoses. The roadmap outlines two main demands to end preventable overdoses in Louisville:
- Acknowledge and analyze the current state of failed drug war policies in Louisville and outline a plan for the next administration to continue.
- Take immediate steps to save and improve the lives of low-income, marginalized people in Louisville by 2022.
“It matters to have VOCAL-KY building the road to end the overdose crisis across our Commonwealth as International Overdose Awareness Day fast approaches,” said State Representative Attica Scott, Kentucky House District 41. “When we authentically listen to the voices of community activists and leaders, we can create healthy and just communities for all of us.”
“For this International Overdose Awareness Day we will not just remember those we have lost, but honor them by fighting for those still struggling. We will not just raise awareness about the crisis, but demand political action to end it,” said Shameka Parrish-Wright, Director of VOCAL-KY. “We will call on local electeds to take immediate action here in Louisville. And hear from state electeds carrying critical legislation to save and improve the lives of Kentuckians in all 120 urban, rural and suburban counties of this state.”
“I can’t even count all the people we’ve lost in the past 3 years,” said Pony, a VOCAL-KY member. “As someone who has lived it, I know we need more access to safe supplies and housing options. Louisville has so many abandoned buildings that could be rehabbed and used for stable housing. Let us work on them, to give us something to do and something that’s ours.”
“We can’t treat the problem and criminalize it at the same time,” said Shreeta M. Waldon, Executive Director of the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition. “The war on drugs has shown to not be effective! If we are truly going to end this epidemic of fatal overdoses, we must de-stigmatize and decriminalize substance use.”
“Housing is a human right. Access to basic hygiene is a human right. Healthcare and the tools to keep yourself alive are all human rights,” said Donny Greene of Feed Louisville. “Sadly none of these are being provided by our city, state or federal government. Kentuckians must demand them. No one saves us but us.”
“I share my story with the hope of dismantling the stigma of our loved ones’ battle and ultimate death, and the treacherous roads we are forced to travel, both before and after,” said Tiny Herron, The Hope Village. “It is my hope that we can help those like us, those of us left behind, AND those still in the trenches and ultimately educate lawmakers, politicians and society as a whole about the realities of substance use disorders, the underlying mental health/trauma issues, and hopefully evoke understanding, compassion and action!”
The state of Kentucky is in the midst of a preventable overdose crisis. A report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy shows 2,250 people died from a drug overdose last year, a nearly 15% increase from 2020. Data from The Journal of the American Medical Association also shows that overdose risk increased by 57% among Black residents, and 45% among White residents from 2019 to 2020.
It’s clear that the preventable overdose crisis impacts every area of the state, and is especially pressing in Louisville. With International Overdose Awareness Day at the end of the month, the Louisville Metro Government has an opportunity to center overdose prevention as a top priority.