“Overdose is the number one cause of unintentional and preventable deaths in the US, far exceeding deaths from motor vehicle accidents and gun violence combined. And the extreme rise in overdose deaths is being felt most dramatically by Black and Indigenous communities,” said Dr. Amesika N Nyaku, Trustee at New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. “Harm reduction strategies, from syringe services to naloxone distribution to drug decriminalization, save lives and recognize the humanity of people. This is an emergency situation and calls for an emergency response by engaging people who use drugs with lifesaving resources and support.”
The Newark overdose memorial is part of the “Support Harm Reduction” campaign, the largest-ever national advertising initiative promoting harm reduction, launched by public health organization Vital Strategies. The campaign was launched in February with a full page ad in the New York Times featuring 200 real people working in harm reduction, on the front lines of the overdose crisis. On the heels of the New York Times ad, three video ads featuring advocates whose own lives were saved by harm reduction, began airing in and around Washington, D.C. on a range of channels including: CNN, BET, ESPN, YouTube, Hulu and on various podcasts. The campaign has generated 44 million impressions to date.
The campaign highlights key interventions for preventing overdose that many people in the United States still don’t have access to, for example: naloxone to reverse an overdose, drug checking resources, medications to treat opioid use disorder, and safer drug use supplies. The campaign features an interactive, online memorial to honor those who have lost their lives to drug overdose – more than one million people in the U.S in the past two decades.
About Vital Strategies’ Overdose Prevention Program
In November 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a five-year, $120 million investment to help combat the overdose crisis in the hard-hit states of Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin and advocate for federal policies to expand treatment access and harm reduction with a goal of accelerating progress in reducing overdose deaths nationally.
The partnership between Vital Strategies, Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, CDC Foundation, and Global Health Advocacy Incubator is helping to strengthen and scale up evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to reduce overdose risks and save lives. The initiative builds on work of the past three years in Michigan and Pennsylvania, launched in 2018 with $50 million and expands the work to promote improved federal policies.