Raising community awareness and remembering those who lost their lives to an overdose is the goal of International Overdose Awareness Day, which falls on August 31.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it’s “the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose and remember those who died without stigma and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.”

In Cambria County, the County Health Rankings show that from 2018-2020 there were 195 drug overdose deaths:

  • 117 Black
  • 47 White

In Somerset County, the Rankings showed 53 overdose deaths (it didn’t include numbers based on race).

Overdoseday.com reports that North America experiences the highest drug-related mortality rate in the world – it accounts for one in four drug-related deaths globally. The Centre for Disease Control estimated that the number of people the number of people in the United States who died from an overdose over a 12-month period, concluding at the end of September 2020, was 90,237.

Experiencing an overdose means having more of a drug (or combination of drugs) than your body can cope with, according to the DEA. Different drugs affect the body in different ways, which means symptoms of an overdose differ.

  • Depressants – Slows vital body activities such as breathing and heart rate
  • Opioids – Slow the central nervous system
  • Stimulants – Increases risk of heart attack, stroke, seizure, or drug-induced psychotic episodes

If you around someone who overdoses seek emergency help for any of the following symptoms:

  • Unconscious
  • Seizure
  • Headache
  • Chest Pain
  • Breathing Difficulties
  • Confusion/Paranoia/Agitation
  • Snowing or Gurgling – Don’t ignore snoring or gurgling it could indicate the person is having a hard time breathing.

Though addiction is difficult, there are resources, both national and local, to help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a 24-hour crisis line at (800) 662-4357. There is also a Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at the easy-to-remember number 988.

Locally, there are 18 treatment facilities within a 25-mile radius of Johnstown and 10 treatment facilities within a 25-mile radius of Somerset Borough.

Treatment facilities in Cambria and Somerset counties include:

To find other treatment facilities near you, visit https://www.findtreatment.gov/.