Commissioners Hold Vigil to Honor International Overdose Awareness Day

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(Camden, NJ) – On Wednesday, Aug. 31, the Board of Commissioners will gather with the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force, activists, healthcare providers and residents to honor of International Overdose Awareness Day at the county’s Hope and Remembrance Memorial.

International Overdose Awareness Day is an annual campaign aimed at ending overdose, remembering those who have died without stigma or judgement and acknowledging the pain of the loved ones left behind.

“The disease of addiction knows no bounds and it can impact anyone no matter your age, race, gender or income,” said Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said. “On Wednesday, we will gather to honor those who were lost to this evil affliction and to show solidarity and support the family and friends of those who have had a loved one stolen by addiction.”

The National Institute for Drug Abuse reported 2020 had been the largest increase in fatal overdoses since 1999. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 57,000 people died from synthetic opioids (predominantly fentanyl) last year, compared with around 13,000 people who died from heroin overdoses. In New Jersey, 3,081 people died of suspected overdoses last year, according to

“The COVID-19 pandemic really exacerbated the overdose and addiction crisis here in New Jersey and across the country,” Cappelli continued. “People were isolated and struggling through shutdowns and illnesses while battling addictions at the same time.”

Between Jan. 1 and July 31 of this year, health care systems in Camden City and Cherry Hill treated approximately 1,395 suspected overdoses, according to the Camden County Office of Mental Health and Addiction. In contrast, from 2018 through 2021, we saw a 30% reduction in the number of Narcan administrations in the county. This can be attributed to law enforcement, healthcare officials, educators and other leaders have coming together to find evidenced based strategies to reduce overdoses and fatalities.

The commissioners and task force have made progress over the last ten years as we have seen more than 30,000 people treated for substance use disorder in Camden County. Treatment is now available unlike years prior and here in the county, our resources include a recovery center, a center of excellence, medication assisted treatment, street outreach, certified peer recovery specialists, 12-Step programming, almost 50 sober living facilities and a permanent memorial to overdose victims and organizations involved in the struggle.

“Please join us on Wednesday to show your support to those we’ve lost and their loved ones,” Cappelli said. “We will never give up this fight against addiction until fatal overdoses are a thing of the past.”

Purple is the color that represents International Overdose Awareness Campaign. Share photos of yourself, friends, family and colleagues wearing purple and supporting the cause by using the hashtag OverdoseAwarenessDayCC on Facebook and Twitter.

For those struggling with addiction, call our county help hotline at 1-877-266-8882. People can also visit the addiction resources webpage at

For more information contact the Office of Mental Health & Addiction at 856-374-6320.