The St. Johns County Poly-Drug Task Force will host Stop the Stigma St. Augustine from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, in front of St. Augustine City Hall, 75 King St. The event aims to unite the community in a show of support for those affected by addiction while encouraging change and prevention to reduce the stigma associated with substance use.
Stop the Stigma will highlight guest speakers from the City of St. Augustine, the St. John’s County Poly-Drug Task Force, EPIC Behavioral Health and PACT. Several community resources will be on hand with information about addiction treatment, recovery and prevention. Anyone who participates in a short training to dispense Narcan to an overdose victim will receive the life-saving drug for free.
According to Dr. Anna Schuchat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s principal deputy director, the number of naloxone (Narcan) prescriptions dispensed by U.S. retail pharmacies doubled from 2017 to last year, increasing from 271,000 to 557,000.
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.
“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,” said Robert Chupella, St. John’s County Poly-Drug Task Force co-chair. “With less stigma, problems can be caught earlier and negative social judgment won’t interfere with people seeking help.”
The event will include a special candlelight remembrance ceremony to honor those lost to overdose and addiction and to support those who are grieving. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The St. Johns County Poly-Drug Task Force provides community-wide efforts to address the opioid crisis and other related substance-use issues. Monthly meetings, which are open to the public, take place at 9 a.m. every third Wednesday at the St. Johns County Health and Human Services building.