Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey Resource Project went fully virtual by the second week of March and End Overdose team members quickly came up with a plan B for 2020. We adapted our events from in person to all virtual and devised a plan to connect with more impacted people through new technology since we couldn’t go knock on doors.
In total we were able to organize three successful public education events with 200 people attending, texted 27,173 people in Southern NJ about how the overdose crisis has impacted them, and launched a virtual overdose memorial called www.notonemorenj.com where people can submit a tribute to their lost loved one and pledge to stand up and speak out for solutions to end overdose.
Our virtual community meetings focused on educating and connecting attendees impacted by the overdose crisis with an opportunity to act for the solutions our communities need to save lives from preventable overdose deaths – MAT, naloxone and other harm reduction tactics. We partnered with service and advocacy organizations from across the state during these events including National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency- NJ, Mental Health Association of New Jersey, Fair Share Housing and New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. These events were held on April 8th, July 30th (Medicaid’s birthday), and August 31st (Overdose Awareness Day).
We also reached people and educated them through Facebook. We live streamed our July 30th event called Not One More: Solutions to End the Overdose Crisis on Facebook which received 1,600 views and 30 engagements. We also shared a video on the overdose crisis that our partners at People’s Action created on Overdose Awareness Day (Aug 31st) that garnered over 800 views and 54 engagements.
And partnered with national allies, we worked together to learn the most effective messaging to communicate with people directly impacted by the overdose crisis and educate them about the solutions we need.When we began 2020 we knew things would be hard – they always are when it comes to facing a public health crisis like the overdose crisis . But we didn’t expect that we would be facing a global pandemic on top of what was already hard times for so many. By March, we were flung into another public health disaster in our communities – thousands lost to COVID, sick, unemployed, and all the people working on the frontlines, at risk of losing their housing. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we began to see a spike in overdose deaths across the state almost immediately. By May of 2020 there was a 19% increase in overdose deaths compared to May of 2019. And now it is being projected that NJ will see a record increase in overdose deaths in 2020.