The Fort Worth-based grassroots group O.D. Aid will co-host two opioid overdose prevention trainings this week in an effort to curb overdose-related deaths in the area and de-stigmatize drug use.
“The whole idea of ‘abstinence-only’ is the predominant theory of overdose prevention in the country,” said Lizzie Maldonado, one of the event organizers from O.D. Aid. “Not everyone is going to want to quit using drugs but even when they are, the process is so dehumanizing. Our approach is that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal issue.”
The numbers on opioid overdose in Fort Worth and Tarrant County are low compared to national ones but are still troublesome.
In Tarrant County in 2016, the opioid-related death rate was 4.9 per 100,000 people, up from 2 deaths per 100,000 in 2010. The state’s average was 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people, ranking it among the lowest in the nation.
In 2017, MedStar, the city’s ambulance service, responded to 1,062 opioid and other illegal narcotic overdose calls in its service areas, of which 1,047 were given doses of Narcan, an opioid antidote in the form of a nasal spray.
Maldonado said that even though Narcan can be purchased at a pharmacy, it often costs more than $100, making it inaccessible to someone who needs it but can’t afford it. O.D. Aid’s original plan was to fundraise to purchase enough Narcan for one training. However, the community response was overwhelmingly positive that Maldonado said they had to schedule a second training as well.
“The main goal was to raise $2,000 online and buy Narcan because we figured this was something that we could do as a community and we wouldn’t need a license or anything,” Maldonado said. “We set out to raise money for 50 doses and wound up getting more than 300 doses just donated to us to distribute.”
O.D. Aid will co-host the trainings with Love Cassidy, a drug prevention group in Grapevine. Mark Kinzly from the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI) will lead the trainings.
Registration for the trainings is free but required for entry.
Opioid Overdose Prevention Trainings
Where: R.D. Evans Community Center, 3242 Lackland Rd., Fort Worth, Texas 76116
When: Wednesday, August 29 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: True Worth Place, 1513 E Presidio St., Fort Worth, Texas 76102
When: Thursday, August 30 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.