Recognizing Overdose Awareness Day on August 31

On August 31, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, along with millions of others around the world, recognizes Overdose Awareness Day, which was established to end stigmatism of addiction and help raise awareness to support services that are available.

All community members are encouraged to know how to recognize and react to a drug overdose. Signs of an overdose may include small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”; falling asleep or loss of consciousness; slow, weak, or no breathing; choking or gurgling sounds; limp body; cold and/or clammy skin; or discolored skin (especially in lips and nails).

Recognizing an overdose can be difficult. If you aren’t sure, it is best to treat the situation like an overdose. Call 911 immediately. Administer naloxone, if it’s available. You could save a life.

YKHC offers naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse an overdose from opioids, including heroin, illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, and prescription opioid medications. Often given as a nasal spray, naloxone is safe and easy to use.

Naloxone is available after a consultation at the pharmacy at the hospital in Bethel. To obtain naloxone in a village, please speak with your health aide. Individuals who use opioids for any reason or are around others who use opioids are encouraged to obtain this opioid reversal medication. Remember, you can’t use naloxone on yourself. Let others know you have it in case you experience an opioid overdose.

Many have been affected by addiction to opioids, and sadly too many of us know the loss of a loved one from overdose. YKHC offers counseling and medication to those struggling with opioid use disorder. Our Opioid Recovery Behavioral Health department serves both the outpatient clinic and residential services at the Ayagnirvik Healing Center. Contact Behavioral Health Outpatient at 907-543-6100 to schedule an assessment for treatment or our Opioid Recovery Case Manager at 907-543-6396 to help get an appointment for drug use treatment.

Assisting those who struggle with opioid use disorder takes commitment and attention 365 days a year. We ask that on August 31, Overdose Awareness Day, you take an extra moment to honor our community members who are struggling with misuse of drugs and honor the memory of those we have lost.