Confronting the Opioid Epidemic, a free community forum addressing the recent spike in opioid addiction and overdose deaths, is set for Nov. 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Edward A. Myerberg Center, 3101 Fallstaff Road.
Sponsored by Jewish Community Services, Sol Levinson & Bros., the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the event will feature keynote speaker Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein of the Johns Hopkins Bloomburg School of Public Health. There will be a panel discussion with Dr. Yngvild Olsen of the Institutes for Behavior Resources; James M. Ryan of Ashley Addiction Treatment; Steve Seidel, whose son died of an overdose; and a person in recovery. The Baltimore City Health Department will also offer information on how to respond to a person overdosing, including how to administer Narcan, a drug that can help save someone from overdose death.
“We have clearly seen the impact of the opioid crisis, and it is heartbreaking, so we wanted to have a presenter to help educate and hopefully save lives,” said Matt Levinson, vice president of Sol Levinson & Bros. “Whether that is by educating someone about treatment options, raising awareness of how highly addictive opioids are or providing training on administering Narcan so someone’s life can be saved and they can have a chance of recovery. It is our hope that people learn more about how widespread this issue is and that it affects everyone no matter their background.
Jewish Community Services prevention education manager Howard Reznick said bringing addiction out of the shadows is paramount to helping mitigate the crisis.
“We need to, as a community, talk about it out loud, share information and connect people who are struggling with treatment and with each other,” he said. “We hope people leave better informed and know what to do if it is in their life or if it enters their life. And that there is hope and help out there and that it’s not some exotic stranger thing — it could be anyone of us who falls in love with the euphoric effects of a painkiller.”
JCS and Sol Levinson & Bros. are planning a grief program for families of people who have died from drug overdose.