Columbia, SC – Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and opioid addiction drives this epidemic. Americans are more likely to die of an opioid overdose than from a car accident or gun. And according to a recent report from DHEC, South Carolina had 2,168 drug overdose deaths in 2021, a more than 25% spike year over year. In continuing to raise awareness and support those struggling with substance use disorder and remember those we have lost to overdose, LRADAC will once again present its annual Black Balloon Day observance on Monday, March 6.
“The CDC estimates that last year, roughly 90% of overdose deaths involved opioids, and 83.9% involved illegally manufactured fentanyl,” said Hailey Kanipe, LRADAC Prevention Specialist. “Most young people who overdosed had no prior opioid use history, and roughly a quarter of those deaths were connected to counterfeit pills laced with the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. And keep in mind that just two milligrams of fentanyl, equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose. Black Balloon Day is one more way to address opioid prevention and treatment publicly and to educate the public on the availability of overdose reversal medications like Narcan and fentanyl testing strips so we can help bring these overdose rates down.”
This year’s Black Balloon Day will also feature a memorial of 219 empty chairs on the hill above LRADAC to symbolize the many loved ones in Lexington and Richland counties who died from an overdose in 2022. In addition, the event will include overdose education, a moment of silence for those we’ve lost, and concluding with a local mother who will share her personal story about the loss of her son due to overdose. LRADAC asks anyone who plans to attend Black Balloon Day to wear black to honor those lost lives.
LRADAC prevention staff will be handing out substance misuse and overdose education materials along with free Narcan—a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose— along with fentanyl testing strips. Black Balloon Day will be held Monday, March 6, in LRADAC’s parking lot at 2711 Colonial Drive, with a special press event starting at 10 am. The memorial installation—featuring biodegradable black balloons—will be open to the public until 3 pm.
For more information about Black Balloon Day, contact Hailey Kanipe, LRADAC Prevention Specialist, at 803-315-9808 or by email at HKanipe@lradac.org.