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Posted on: August 31, 2020

International Overdose Awareness Day Vigil 2020

public health update

Portland Public Health Division’s Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction Services Program recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31). International Overdose Awareness Day has been a key remembrance event for those who have died from fatal drug overdoses since 2001 and this vigil is part of an international movement organized by the Penington Institute in Australia. 

In 2019, Maine experienced 380 overdose deaths and of those, 82% involved at least one opioid. There has been a 23% increase in the first quarter of 2020, with 127 deaths. (Office of the Maine Attorney General, July 17, 2020). This rise in opioid overdose deaths is a reminder to the community that this public health crisis continues to require collaboration and resources. For more information on community naloxone trainings, please visit the City of Portland website

Beginning on August 31st at 12 PM, a memorial wall will be constructed, like the last two years, by a group of young men who live locally in a recovery residence. This wall is designed to celebrate and honor lives lost to overdose in our community with photos, artwork and written messages. The structure will be placed at the India Street Public Health Center, at 103 India Street, and we invite members of the community to view and contribute to the wall through Friday, September 4. Signage will ask that people use a single use pre-packaged kit, supplied by Public Health Division staff, to mount their artwork or photos and add their loved one’s name(s). The wall will be protected by a weatherproof canopy. 

Throughout the week, from August 31-September 4, between the hours of 9 AM and 4 PM, the India Street Public Health Center will be open for community members to receive naloxone and a training on overdose response. This service is free and open to the public.

On August 31, the lights on City Hall will be purple in remembrance of those lost to overdose.

On September 2 at 12 PM, the Public Health Division will host a virtual Overdose Response Training in collaboration with Spurwink. The one hour training is free and open to the public and includes information about the signs and symptoms of opioid overdose and how lay people can respond with naloxone. Naloxone is the antidote used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose and restore breathing. This medication is available at a pharmacy or with a doctor’s prescription. It is also available at India Street Public Health Center and other local organizations as part of the State of Maine’s Opioid Response Plan supported by Governor Mills.

WHEN: Monday August 31-Friday September 4, 2020
WHERE: India Street Public Health Center, 103 India Street, Portland
For more information about any of these opportunities please email Zoe Brokos at or call (207) 756-8024

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