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Oneida event raises awareness of addiction, overdose

Charles Pritchard
Staff writer
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Posted 9/1/22

International Overdose Awareness Day saw local agencies come together at Higinbotham Park in Oneida to offer a helping hand to those who need it.

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Oneida event raises awareness of addiction, overdose


ONEIDA — International Overdose Awareness Day saw local agencies come together at Higinbotham Park in Oneida to offer a helping hand to those who need it. In 2001, Overdose Awareness Day was started to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends. All across the globe, communities gather around this time to remember and help those affected by drug overdose.

“We’re not only trying to end overdose but remember those who died — without any stigma and barriers,” Karing Kitchen Coordinator Melissa King said. “Because we need to acknowledge those left behind.”

Karing Kitchen is a food pantry run through the Oneida Area Council of Churches and works to help combat hunger while providing advocacy and support for those in the community in need. King said there’s a stigma in the community when it’s learned someone who died has died of an overdose — one that places the blame on the person for their choices.

“So many people have told me that they didn’t choose this way of life, and the reality is that addiction is real and a disease,” she said. “And we need to figure out a way to cure it.”

King said there’s a solid need for the stigma to be left by the wayside so people can come forward “... and say ‘I’m struggling, I’m going to reuse, I don’t know what to do. If they feel we’re judging them, do you think they will come forward for support?” King asked.

More than anything, King urges those struggling with addiction or families and friends of those struggling with addiction to reach out and find the help they need.

Pathways Wellness Center through Madison County Mental Health is located at 1019 Northside Shopping Center in Oneida. The Center offers peer support and helps navigate and link with different services, get benefits, and develop natural supports and social relationships. For more information, call 855-387-3030

BRiDGES Madison County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse offers many programs and services to the community, from prevention programs and addiction resources to Narcan and opioid overdose prevention training. Bridges is located at 1507 Upper Lenox Ave. in Oneida and is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday evenings until 7 p.m. For more information, call 315-697-3947 or visit

Though there’s been a decrease in recent years, Opioids continue to be an epidemic in Madison County and the country. In a May 2022 report by the Madison County Department of Health, around 70 cases of overdose were recorded where Narcan was administered by EMS, law enforcement, and registered community opioid overdose prevention programs.

“The number of administrations has risen sharply since 2019,” the report read. “EMS organizations continue to administer the most doses; however, the number of doses administered by registered community opioid overdose prevention programs increased substantially in 2021.”

“According to the CDC, there was an estimate 107,000 drug overdoses in 2021 — an increase of 15% from 2020,” King said. “And it’s even more since 2019. It’s a problem that’s not going away.”

King wanted people to know that the New York State 911 Good Samaritan Law allows people to call 911 without fear of arrest if they are having a drug or alcohol overdose that requires medical care or if they’re witnessing someone overdose.

“The goal is to ensure we’re treating people,” she said. “It’s challenging, but we’re trying to make sure, at least at Karing Kitchen, to connect people to the right resources. We’re trying to feed not just the body but the spirit as well.”



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