Stop the Stigma St. Augustine

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm

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"Stop the Stigma St. Augustine" – A Community-wide event of education, hope and remembrance.

The St. Johns County Poly-Drug Task Force is hosting a community event called "Stop the Stigma St. Augustine" in front of St. Augustine City Hall at 75 King Street. The event is being held in conjunction with International Overdose Awareness Day, which is held annually on or near August 31st. The goal of this gathering is to bring community members together to show support for all those affected by addiction, and to encourage change and prevention as we work together to reduce the stigma associated with substance use.

The event will highlight guest speakers from the City of St. Augustine, the St. Johns County Poly-Drug Task Force, EPIC Behavioral Health, and PACT Prevention Coalition of St. Johns County. There will be several community resources at the event with information about addiction treatment, recovery, and prevention. The Task Force wants people to know that it is a myth that someone has to hit rock bottom in order to get help. It is important and more effective to get help early.

There will be free Narcan to anyone who attends and gets a short training on how to dispense it to someone who has overdosed. According to Dr. Anna Schuchat, the Center for Disease Control's principal deputy director, the number of naloxone prescriptions dispensed by U.S. retail pharmacies doubled from 2017 to last year, rising from 271,000 to 557,000. This could be the reason that the number of overdose deaths have decreased in 2018 in a preliminary count. Our goal is to educate everyone to be able to save a life.

According to a 2014 report from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 21.5 million Americans had a substance use disorder, yet only 2.5 million received specialized treatment for it. According to Robert Chupella, St. John's County Poly-Drug Task Force Co-Chair, “the language of stigma often becomes internalized by persons who need help, resulting in an unwillingness to pursue treatment, as well as a loss of self-esteem and a profound sense of isolation. With less stigma, problems can be caught earlier and negative social judgment won’t interfere with people seeking help.”

There will be a special candlelight remembrance ceremony to honor those lost to overdose and addiction, and to support those who are grieving. A recent Bereavement Cares study reports that stigma is also impacting people who have lost a loved one from substance related harm, and we want to show support to all those who are mourning. Kimberly Underwood will be a special guest performer at the ceremony. Loved ones are invited to email photos of their loved ones to be included in a digital memorial to letsremember2019@gmail.com.

For more information about the event please contact MaryAnn Chupella at bomar540@hotmail.com.

The St. Johns County Poly-Drug task force is providing community-wide efforts to address the Opioid Crisis and other related substance use issues. Monthly meetings are open to anyone interested, and are held at the St. Johns County Health and Human Services building every 3rd Wednesday at 9 AM.

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