Kappa Psi brothers bring overdose awareness to the Spirit of Detroit
Submitted by the WSU Mu Omicron Pi chapter of Kappa Psi
The overdose epidemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on our nation, claiming the lives of far too many Americans and devastating families and communities across the country. In 2021, more than 100,000 people died from an overdose, an approximate 15% increase from the previous year, and nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid. As the overdose epidemic has evolved, synthetic opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl, now drive most overdose deaths.
In order to fight the overdose pandemic, President Joe Biden proclaimed Aug. 28 through Sept. 3, 2022, as Overdose Awareness Week. He called upon citizens, government agencies, civil society organizations, health care providers and research institutions to raise awareness of substance use disorder to combat stigmatization, to promote treatment and celebrate recovery and to strengthen our collective efforts to prevent overdose deaths.
Aug. 31 also marks Overdose Awareness Day, which honors and remembers those who have lost their lives to the drug overdose epidemic. To support the president’s call to action, the brothers of Wayne State University’s Mu Omicron Pi chapter of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity partnered with the Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center to hold an educational booth at the Spirit of Detroit Plaza.
The Kappa Psi brothers — who lead other organizations from WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences shared resources for those interested in helping others struggling with addiction — demonstrated Narcan (naloxone) rescue kits and passed out portable medication disposal systems to those in attendance.
“Our nation’s current administration urges citizens to promote the expansion of evidence-based prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services. Our Kappa Psi brothers and fellow students at WSU Applebaum are working hard to support these goals,” said Joseph Paul Javier, Kappa Psi corresponding secretary and president of the WSU chapter of the Industry Pharmacists Association (IPhO). “With funds awarded to our chapter via the Kappa Psi Service Grant, we’ve been able to provide Narcan rescue kits to our community. Approximately every 8 minutes, a person dies from an opioid overdose. Sharing these rescue kits and educating the public are necessary to combat the overdose pandemic. We will continue our efforts with other student organizations like IPhO, SNPhA and AMCP to help prevent overdose deaths in our communities.”
Narcan is the brand name for the medication naloxone that is a potentially lifesaving medication designed to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in minutes. There are many reasons for opioid overdose emergencies, and most often they happen accidentally and at home. Having a Narcan rescue kit nearby can make all the difference.
“Aligning with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy's call for student pharmacists to be trained on opioid overdose prevention and naloxone administration, SNPhA/Kappa Psi took the initiative to participate as a way to promote safe medication use and offer resources to those who might need it,” said Obioma Opara who is the Kappa Psi philanthropy chair and president of the WSU chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA).
Over the summer, Opara researched the effects of opioid misuse and how to mitigate this issue through education and prevention. Mentored by WSU Applebaum Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice Victoria Tutag Lehr (who has been a driving force at the MDHHS Naloxone Implementation Taskforce), Opara thanked her for making this outreach event possible.
“I am grateful to Dr. Tutag Lehr for connecting us with Denise Kolakowski and the WSU Michigan Poison and Drug Information Center so that we could support this initiative,” said Opara. “Detroit is a city with one of the highest rates of opioid abuse. People of color and people struggling from poverty are often the hardest hit communities when it comes to substance abuse. Educating the public and spreading awareness regarding opioid misuse saves lives.”
Kappa Psi Treasurer and President-Elect of the WSU Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) Brian Globerman said, “Overdoses result in thousands of deaths each year, but that number continues to decrease because of overdose awareness and efforts like this outreach initiative at the Spirit of Detroit Plaza. Our Overdose Awareness Week efforts will help provide information about the abuse and misuse of drugs and medications as well as how those seeking help can access much-needed local resources for treatment options.”