Opioids Awarness Task Force Organizes to Honor Those Lost to Opioid Epidemic - Know the Risks

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Rita Andolsen, (216) 337-9491, randolsen@metrohealth.org
Eliza Wing, (216) 408-1062, ewing@cuyahogacounty.us 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was the site of a moving and interactive memorial as local grassroots effort “Know the Risks” revealed a stark and moving tribute, drawing awareness to the impact of the opioid epidemic in Northeast Ohio and across the nation.

Today’s event follows a report released just yesterday that overdose deaths in Ohio are up 32.8 percent from 2015. Nearly a third of those deaths were in Northeast Ohio.

With the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a 10-foot tall pill bottle as a backdrop, “Know the Risks” advanced the public awareness campaign launched in April 2017 by revealing a memorial tribute and inviting those whose lives have been touched by the epidemic to participate and honor those they’ve lost. The memorial is a real-life expression of a video the group released during the event. See more at this link https://youtu.be/kIOrRRbRWnk and please share to increase awareness.

“Know the Risks” generated national awareness back in July, placing actors inside of the larger than life pill bottle in Downtown Cleveland’s Public Square, telling the story of how opioid prescription abuse can lead to addiction and how it has fueled our nation’s heroin epidemic.

Opening the event today, Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris said the venue is a natural place to showcase this moving exhibit given the organizations’ involvement in the community and the fact that it is a gathering place and destination.

County executive Armond Budish told the crowd that more than 550 people in Cuyahoga County died from opioid overdoses in 2016 and that we are on track to lose more than 800 in 2017.

“Our morgue is overrun, our foster care system is overburdened, our neighbors, our friends, our family members are dying”, he said.

Budish was joined by MetroHealth CEO Dr. Akram Boutros whose hospital is leading the way in fighting and responding to the opioid epidemic. In July it opened an Office of Opioid Safety, dedicated to educating providers, patients and the community.

“I stand here today continuing to give my full support to this effort by encouraging all of you to take action,” he said. “Know the risks, talk about the risks and share the information on social media. Be an advocate for yourself, your family and the community”.

Background information:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, four out of five new heroin users started with an addiction to prescription opioids.

Cuyahoga County had more than 550 overdose deaths in 2016 and is projected to see up to 850 overdose deaths before the end of 2017.

It was these devastating numbers that led to the formation of a task force of communications professionals from local hospitals, Cuyahoga County, the US Attorney's Office and the Medical Examiner's Office. The group is using the power of media and communication to fight the deadly local opioid epidemic by getting at it from the front end and generating awareness to the risks of opioid abuse.

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