Overdose awareness day event set for Aug. 30 in Madisonville

The Monroe County Prevention and Wellness Coalition is set to host the International Overdose Awareness Day event at the Monroe County Rescue Squad later this month.

The keynote speaker for the event will be Thomas Farmer, who is the state director of the Tennessee Dangerous Drug Task Force.

Gabbie McConkey, the project director for the Monroe County Prevention and Wellness Coalition, stated International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event to raise awareness that overdose deaths are preventable.

“We also use it reduce the stigma, a day of remembrance and also one of education,” McConkey said. “We have a lot going on and it is going to be a packed afternoon.”

The date of the event will be Aug. 30 from 5:30-8 p.m. and it will contain information booths from community partners, the “Stashed Away” trailer, Marcan Training and Distribution, and a candlelight vigil in memory of loved ones who lost their lives due to overdose.

“The stashed away trailer will be set up like a teenager’s bedroom and is an educational tool for parents and caregivers,” she noted. “Kids aren’t allowed in it and it is to give the parents and caregivers an idea of what to look for.”

Other special guests who are currently scheduled to attend are Lt. Gov. Rand McNally, State Rep. Lowell Russell and State Rep. Mark Cochran.

“This event is really important because overdoses happen every day,” she expressed. “It’s not always someone who is using illicit drugs and overdose does not discriminate. Our goal is trying to prevent it and educate our youth.”

Though the event is global, this is the third year that Monroe County has hosted it.

“We work with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) National Drug Take Back Days, which are usually in April and October, and with the last one in October we collected almost 400 pounds,” McConkey said. “Tennessee as a whole collected the most it ever has last October. We also have permanent drop boxes at all of the police departments and some of our pharmacies as well.”

She noted they started to do drive through take back events due to COVID.

“It became very difficult for people to do a drop off with so many places being closed, so we had it where they could literally drive up, open their window, put it in the barrel and keep going,” she explained. “We normally partner with some of our independent pharmacies and we always promote it each time the drop off days arrive.”

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