Wilmington Community To Mark Overdose Awareness Day

Wednesday is International Overdose Awareness Day — an annual campaign with the goal of ending overdoses, remembering without stigma those who have died, and to acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind.


The opioid epidemic is a complex crisis that, if we are to make a meaningful difference, requires a united approach with mental health providers, law enforcement, and more. That’s why in 2018, the City of Wilmington headed up a pilot project called the Quick Response Team of Coastal Horizons (QRT) to help Wilmington residents struggling with substance use disorder.

Sponsored by the City of Wilmington, the QRT engages overdose survivors, those who are at high risk of overdose, and those close to them – helping them to be safer, supported, and ultimately connected to treatment and recovery resources. In FY 2019-2020, the QRT successfully helped 90 percent of survivors it engaged to enter treatment. Between July 2018 and August 2021, the QRT connected 513 overdose survivors to treatment.

“The opioid epidemic has touched nearly everyone and is especially present in Wilmington, but the work the Quick Response Team does to help transition individuals into treatment, to help them overcome any obstacles to recovery, and to support them every step of the way, is saving lives,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said recently. “I applaud the work of the QRT, the courage of the survivors to seek treatment, and the difference we’re seeing in our community from these efforts. Every day we each have an opportunity to make Wilmington a better, safer, healthier city, and every day, the Quick Response Team rises to that challenge.”


According to data from the CDC, there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020. The 2021 increase was half of what it was the previous year, when overdose deaths rose 30% from 2019 to 2020.

In North Carolina, there were 3,759 reported overdose deaths in 2021, a 13.7% increase from the 3,304 deaths in 2020. So far in 2022, the state continues to see a rise in fatal overdoses.

According to the most recent data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there have been 2,414 suspected overdose deaths in the state from January 2022 to July 2022 — a 7% increase compared to the same time frame in 2021.


On Wednesday, we’re asking the community to join us for an event at the MLK Center (401 South 8th Street) to commemorate those lost to overdose. There will be live music, food trucks, community resources, guest speakers, activities, and a memorial vigil. The event will take place from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.

Overdose is preventable. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call the Quick Response Team at 910.833.2052.

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