Today, Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. North Dakota Health and Human Services (HHS) is commemorating the day by remembering those lost due to drug overdoses without stigma and recognizing the grief of their family members and friends. The HHS Behavioral Health Division is raising awareness about available prevention resources that can help save North Dakotans’ lives.
The 2023 theme “Recognizing those people who go unseen” is about acknowledging people who are affected by overdose, but might go unseen in the crisis.
According to HHS Violent Death Reporting System, there were 115 drug overdose deaths in 2020. Preliminary data from 2022, shows North Dakota had 132 drug overdose deaths with nearly 40% involving individuals ages 30-39.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms
An overdose requires immediate medical attention.
Individuals who show these signs and symptoms may be experiencing a drug overdose:
- Unresponsive and/or heartbeat or breathing is slow or has stopped,
- Body is limp and fingernails or lips have a blue tinge, and
- Individual is vomiting or making gurgling noises.
If individuals observe these signs and symptoms in someone, they should call 911 immediately and administer naloxone if available.
Resources to save lives
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is effective in reversing opioid overdoses if administered in a timely manner. Naloxone is available through many North Dakota public health units, pharmacies or primary care providers. A free two-dose naloxone kit is also available from the HHS Behavioral Health Division by visiting behavioralhealth.wufoo.com/forms/narcan-request or calling (701)328-8920, 711 (TTY).
North Dakota has a law, known as the Good Samaritan Law, that protects anyone who administers naloxone in a good faith effort to reverse an opioid overdose and contacts 911.
“We are committed to working with our partners to address the overdose epidemic," said Behavioral Health Division Director Pamela Sagness. “Ensuring North Dakotans have access to naloxone and training on how to use it in the event they encounter an individual experiencing an overdose is a crucial step in saving lives statewide."
From Oct. 1, 2023 to July 31, 2023, the Behavioral Health Division has distributed 19,891 naloxone kits in North Dakota. During this same timeframe, 708 overdose reversals have been reported.
Various treatment options are available for individuals with a substance use disorder including the department’s eight regional human service centers, four licensed opioid treatment programs as well as other private providers. To find a treatment provider in North Dakota, visit behavioralhealth.nd.gov/addiction/service-locator.
To request naloxone training, or other resources to prevent overdose and overdose deaths, visit hhs.nd.gov/opioids or contact a local public health unit.