On August 31, the Idaho Harm Reduction Project, alongside Central District Health (CDH) and the PEER Wellness Center, hosted the #EndOverdose event on the steps of the Capitol building in Boise to raise awareness about the prevalence of overdose deaths across the state.
The event took place on International Overdose Awareness Day. Organizations from across the Treasure Valley staffed booths providing information on addiction recovery services, overdose prevention and harm reduction. Speakers addressed the crowd with stories, statistics, addiction research, solutions, and training on how to administer Naloxone, an important overdose reversal drug.
Interfaith Sanctuary Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers, Director of Case Management Maranda Jay, and shelter guests enrolled in Interfaith’s on-site recovery program spoke to attendees and shared information about Project Recovery.
Sarah, a Project Recovery participant who helped the shelter set up its booth in Cecil Andrus Park, said the program provides good support while challenging programmers to unpack trauma and address the root causes of addiction. “It’s intensive. We talk a lot about how the roles we play in life and in our families create trauma that perpetuates the cycle of addiction,” she said.
Peterson-Stigers said there’s a major gap in the services needed to treat addiction in Boise’s unhoused community. “We need more ability. We don’t have enough space to do what is needed out on the streets. There is a huge gap in the access to true recovery,” she said. “The miracle on the other side of that story is that even during the pandemic, we have 53 people that we’ve gotten into programming and 13 who have graduated with over 100 days of sobriety. We have gotten them housed, back to work, and have them mentoring.”
Between 2019 and 2019, 2,196 people died from drug overdoses in Idaho, according to a proclamation issued by Governor Brad Little in August. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) told reporters this week that 287 people in Idaho died from overdose in 2021. According to the Idaho Press, DHW said fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 9% in the state between 2019 and 2020, with emergency room visits for suspected overdoses in Idaho expected to exceed the pace of those in 2020.
Marjorie Wilson, who co-founded the Idaho Harm Reduction Project in 2019, reminded the crowd that the goal in harm reduction is to prevent overdose, adverse health consequences and death while also providing a multitude of pathways to recovery. People who have already died cannot recover, she said.
Wilson’s organization provides clean syringes, naloxone, and HIV/Hepatitis-C testing to community members dealing with addiction. Staff and volunteers with the Harm Reduction Project can be found on weeknights distributing supplies alongside Idaho Mutual Aid near Rhodes Skate Park in downtown Boise.
To learn more about Project Recovery, email firstname.lastname@example.org.