Community members raise awareness for drug overdose victims | News

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Wednesday was International Drug Overdose Awareness day.

The Buchanan County Opioid Task Force hosted a remembrance event for International Overdose Awareness day Wednesday evening.

Community members gathered at Felix Street Square Wednesday evening to raise awareness for drug overdose and the stigmas surrounding substance abuse.

“This event is held, and it’s an international event so it’s held worldwide on August 31st every year, just to commemorate overdose awareness. It is to remind people that overdose is in our communities and there are things that we can be doing to prevent overdose ,” Stephanie Malita, St. Joseph Health Department said.

Malita is one of many people in the community working to help aid in the fight against overdose deaths and the opioid crisis in St. Joseph.

“The Buchanan County opioid task force meets once a month and we have since 2018. We began the task force after our community held an opioid summit ordered by the governor at the time,” Malita said.

So far this year there have been 26 overdose deaths in St. Joseph, all of them having an impact on so many people within the community.

The remembrance event Wednesday night offered a platform for people to share their stories on how they, their family, and their friends have been affected by substance abuse and drug overdose.

One central theme from the speakers Wednesday was the need for an end to the stigma on drug addiction.

“I feel like so many people think that if you’re an addict you’re below other, you are less than human, and unfortunately, up until it hit me directly, I kind of felt that way too. And I think that’s where “It starts. I think that’s what needs to happen first and foremost if we want to really see changes in our community, is we need to end the stigma,” St. Joseph resident Angel Kirkland said.

While those suffering from addiction may feel like there is no hope, the Kolbe-Puckett Healing Center ensures that it’s never too late to start the recovery journey.

“There’s several places to go in St. Joe. it’s possible to get clean no matter if you think you’re the worst of the worst. it’s scary to reach out for help, it’s awkward, i guess. change is scary, but so is staying in that life,” said Layla Stone from the Kolbe-Puckett Healing Center.

If you want more information on International Overdose Awareness Day, visit


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