ROCKINGHAM — For the third consecutive year, one local group will be honoring the memories of those lost to drug overdoses.
Steve’s Wings is hosting its annual Overdose Awareness Rally from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot across from the Richmond County Judicial Center and Richmond Community College’s downtown campus.
Melissa Schoonover founded the group following her father’s death in 2020 and has been an advocate for those dealing with addiction.
Richmond County had North Carolina’s highest rate of fentanyl-involved deaths in 2022, according to a recent report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
In the first six months of this year, there were 112 emergency department visits for overdose involving medications or drugs with dependency potential, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
The number of opioid-specific overdose emergency department visits in the same time period has increased by 57.5% from the previous year.
It should be noted that overdose patients who refused treatment are not listed, and the RO has no current statistics for that.
Records with the Richmond County Drug Endangered Family Task Force show that (at least) 87.5 mg of naloxone was administered in January alone — more than half of that administered (168.5 mg) in 2021 and more than the first three months of 2022 combined (75 mg).
Earlier this week, drug addiction was part of a roundtable discussion on Medicaid expansion hosted by Gov. Roy Cooper at the Hamlet Depot.
The rally will feature resource booths from several organizations, including Samaritan Colony, the Richmond County Health Department, Sandhills Best Care and the Chris Schoonover Foundation.
The latter is another organization started by Melissa Schoonover, named in memory of her stepson who died from an apparent overdose late last year. The purpose of that group is to help families pay for cremation services of loved ones who pass away unexpectedly, not limited to overdose deaths.
Samaritan Colony has been helping men cope with addiction for more than four decades and, in 2018, announced plans for the SECU Women’s Recovery Center, which is currently under construction.
Saturday’s event will also feature a banner with photos of those who have died from overdoses, as well as a candlelight vigil and video presentation in their memories.
For more information, call 910-417-8740.