BOSTON – On August 31, Boston Medical Center (BMC) joined the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and state officials to plant 22,357 purple flags on Boston Common in recognition of Overdose Awareness Day. The flags serve as a remembrance of the 20,000 lives lost to overdose in Massachusetts between 2012-2022 and honors the 2,357 lives lost to overdose in Massachusetts in 2022 which represents the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded by the state.
“Overdose Awareness Day and September’s National Recovery Month is a time to reflect and remember those who lost their life to the disease of addiction. Fatal overdoses have hit record numbers here in Massachusetts and that’s why the Grayken Center is dedicated to not only providing behavioral health services with compassion and dignity but also dismantling the bias that surrounds this epidemic,” said Colleen LaBelle, MSN, director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Training and Technical Assistance program and director of the Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) Clinic at Boston Medical Center.
The public is welcome to add tags to flags for those they have lost to addiction starting today, August 31 through Sunday, September 3 at Liberty Mall on the Boston Common, across from the State House. Information and resources will be available on overdose prevention, naloxone access, resources, and ways to access addiction treatment.
“It is critical today for us to reflect on the lives lost and raise awareness of the need for widespread access to all treatment and harm reduction options to curb this epidemic,” said Miriam Komaromy, MD, medical director of BMC’s Grayken Center for Addiction. “The Grayken Center stands with everyone who battles with substance use disorder and we pause to remember those who lost their life to the struggle.”
“Overdose Awareness Day is a moment for us to remind ourselves and educate others that addiction is a disease that must be treated with the same care and respect as other critical illnesses,” said Eilene Grayken, who, with her husband John Grayken, helped establish the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center in 2017 with their generous philanthropic gift. “Today we pause to remember those who lost their lives to this epidemic and recognize the need to eliminate stigma and increase access to treatment that helps save lives.”
In honor of Overdose Awareness Day, the BMC transport bridge will be lit in purple for the rest of the week, along with several state bridges and buildings. Recovery Month events will be held across the state throughout September. For information about these events, visit www.bmc.org/recovery-month-2023.
If you are at risk of experiencing an overdose, call the overdose prevention helpline at 1-800-972-0590, a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week DPH-sponsored resource led by BMC’s Grayken Center for Addiction. To learn more about Massachusetts’ efforts to reduce addiction and prevent stigma, visit www.mass.gov/opioids.
About Boston Medical Center
Boston Medical Center models a new kind of excellence in healthcare, where innovative and equitable care empowers all patients to thrive. We combine world-class clinicians, cutting-edge treatments, and advanced technology with compassionate, quality care, that extends beyond our walls. As an award-winning health equity leader, our diverse clinicians and staff interrogate racial disparities in care and partner with our community to dismantle systemic inequities. And as a national leader in research and the teaching affiliate for Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, we’re driving the future of care.
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