August is overdose awareness month and Mind Springs Health (MSH) is using the time to educate locals about the opioid epidemic and how overdosing can be prevented or even reversed at the time it’s taking place.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 67,367 people — on record — died of an overdose in the United States in 2018 (their most recent statistics).
MSH Peer Recovery Coach Maggie Seldeen says that, “statistics on illegal activity are often hard to get exact numbers for,” and furthermore that, “ small populations often suppress their data to protect the privacy of individuals and the latest data is usually a couple of years old.” Not to mention, “We usually don’t hear about overdoses that don’t end in death,” she summed up.
That said, Seldeen also explained that on record Colorado saw a 9 percent increase of overdose deaths throughout the state in 2019. On top of which, “We have seen a 35 percent increase in the first months of 2020, with 443 overdose deaths between January and April,” Seldeen stated.
Needless to say, she is addressing a problem people are in jeopardy of losing their lives to.
If you haven’t seen her already, you can catch Seldeen holding down the MSH booth at local farmers’ markets in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs through the end of the month. “I meet people in every town who understand the importance of the work I’m doing and have been very welcoming about broaching this sensitive subject,” Seldeen said.
MHS partnered with Garfield County Libraries for a virtual event on Aug. 17 where, from her home, Seldeen discussed harm-reduction strategies, how to identify an overdose and even how to administer Narcan in response to an opioid overdose.
Narcan is a drug which offsets the effects of an opioid overdose. Narcan can be purchased without a prescription and anyone can administer it, “without liability — even if the product is expired,” said Seldeen.
“If you interact with the public, there is a chance that you could witness an overdose,” Seldeen stated, “carrying Narcan is the best thing you can do.”
Seldeen also believes that, “Talking about drug use and mental health” is important for the community at large to do, in order, “to reduce shame and stigma and to get people the help they need.”
At 2 p.m. on Aug. 31 — the official date for overdose awareness recognition — Seldeen will be hosting a virtual event via MSH’s Facebook page where she is expected to discuss the nuances of her position. It will be presented in English as well as Spanish.
Seldeen’s position is funded by a state opioid response grant; hence the emphasis on opioids this month. Although, Seldeen was happy to mention that, “In September, the state grant will expand to include stimulants, so I am working to open up the conversation surrounding the risks of both stimulants and opioids.”
In 2018, stimulants caused the majority of overdose related deaths in Colorado, Seldeen explained.
Seldeen is also working on a public affairs show with KDNK staff member, Kenna Crampton (Steindler), called ‘Chemical World’ which is meant to broaden peoples’ understanding of chemical dependence, how common it is and various methods of recovery. At 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, KDNK will air a segment where the duo will talk about how to identify an overdose.
Seldeen can be reached at email@example.com or 531-5060 for any questions or to facilitate a presentation.