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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

U.S. Attorney's Office to Sponsor Event To Raise Awareness of Heroin and Opioid Abuse

Speakers, Music, and Resources Set for Program at Marvin Gaye Park

            WASHINGTON –The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, and other government and community partners are leading an event Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, at Marvin Gaye Park to raise awareness about the rising public health crisis caused by drug overdoses.

            The event is open to the public and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the park, which is at the corner of Division Avenue and Foote Street in Northeast Washington. The program is designed to educate the community about the heroin and opioid epidemic. Substance abuse treatment counselors will be present to provide information and make direct referrals to treatment programs. Music will be provided by DJ FLAVA of WKYS Radio (93.9 FM). In addition, music will be performed by the Amazing Gospel Souls – the Lorton Legends.

            “We must do everything we can to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic that is threatening communities across the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips. “Raising awareness about the lethal consequences of heroin and opioid abuse is a priority of our office and we hope this week’s event at Marvin Gaye Park will launch meaningful action and discussion.”

            President Obama has proclaimed this to be National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and other officials are making appearances across the nation throughout the week to highlight the problem and to reinforce the Justice Department’s three-fold approach to the opioid and heroin epidemic:  1) prevent further tragedies by raising awareness regarding the opioid and heroin epidemic; 2) focus on enforcement priorities and highlight best practices; and 3) deploy resources for treatment.

            More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes—and most of those involve prescription opioids or heroin. In 2014, more than 27,000 lives were lost to heroin and opioids, and reports from the field indicate that this number has increased in 2015 and this year.  The largest share of this toll comes from the abuse of prescription opioids, but the number of deaths from heroin has increased dramatically over the last several years.  Particularly disturbing is the recent rise of deaths caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is much stronger than heroin, and its derivatives.

            Opioids historically have been used as painkillers, but they also have great potential for misuse. Repeated use of opioids greatly increases the risk of developing an opioid use disorder. The use of illegal opiate drugs such as heroin and the misuse of legally available pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone can have serious negative health effects.

            Many young people who inject heroin report misuse of prescription opioids before starting to use heroin. In addition to increasing the risk of overdose, the intravenous use of heroin places individuals at higher risk of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

            Others taking part in the event Thursday include the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency; the Metropolitan Police Department; the FBI’s Washington Field Office;  the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Metro Transit Police Department; the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General; the District of Columbia Department of Health;  the District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health; the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department; the District of Columbia Prevention Center for Wards 7 & 8;  Hillcrest Children and Family Center;  Collaborative Solutions for Communities; Foundation for a Drug Free World, and the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative.

            Thursday’s event is among a series of presentations this week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several local partners to various audiences in the District of Columbia.

            Those with questions or interest in the event Thursday may contact Supervisory Community Outreach Specialist Brenda J. Horner at 202-252-6959 or brenda.j.horner@usdoj.gov.

 

Twitter: #opioidawareness

Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Press Release Number: 
16-174
Updated September 21, 2016