“Friend, if we are going to curb the overdose crisis and save lives then it’s time for…action, not just awareness.
As we commemorate this International Overdose Awareness Day, we must ensure our elected officials finally address drug overdose deaths that are rising dramatically every year. The latest CDC estimates show that there were 107,600 overdose deaths in 2021—a nearly 15 percent surge from the record numbers we saw in 2020.
Kassandra Frederique is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit that works to end the war on drugs—which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities—and build alternatives grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. During her time at DPA, Frederique has built and led innovative campaigns around policing, the overdose crisis, and marijuana legalization—each with a consistent racial justice focus. Her advocacy, and all of the Drug Policy Alliance’s work, lies at the intersection of health, equity, autonomy, and justice.
Drug Policy Alliance Appeal Letter
Friend, if we are going to curb the overdose crisis and save lives then it’s time for meaningful action, not just awareness.
As we commemorate this International Overdose Awareness Day, we must ensure our elected officials finally address drug overdose deaths that are rising dramatically every year. The latest CDC estimates show that there were 107,600 overdose deaths in 2021—a nearly 15% surge from the record numbers we saw in 2020.
It’s past time for action because overdose deaths are preventable. We’re dealing with an unregulated, unsafe drug supply that is fueling the overdose crisis and killing our loved ones. But the anti-drug and “tough on crime” rhetoric and punitive policies by some elected officials have blocked the widespread adoption of lifesaving overdose prevention and public health policies.
We are calling on our elected leaders to prioritize these three key health-based solutions that are proven to help people who use drugs:
- Harm reduction, practical, commonsense policies created by people who use drugs, offers options to keep people alive and use more safely without judgement. We need to ensure enough funding is allocated to harm reduction to adequately address this growing crisis. Join us by taking action and urging Congress to prioritize harm reduction and overdose prevention in the federal budget.
- Decriminalizing drugs and investing in health services shifts resources away from arresting and jailing people for possessing drugs and towards investing in communities and focusing on public health. Building off our win in Oregon, we’re working to replicate this policy in other states and at the federal level with the groundbreaking Drug Policy Reform Act. Please tell your House Representative to support this historic federal drug decriminalization bill right now.
- Overdose prevention centers (OPCs) keep people alive, providing a safe space for people to consume drugs under the supervision of a trained staff, access to sterile equipment, overdose reversal medication, and connections to critical health and social services. We will build on our historic win that allowed New York City to open the first sanctioned OPCs in the nation by advocating to protect OPCs from federal interference.
At the Drug Police Alliance, we’ve been sounding the alarm on the overdose crisis for many years. It’s incredibly tragic to witness it worsen because we know it doesn’t have to be this way. We also know that the policies outlined here are only a few pieces of the puzzle. Overdose and other harms will continue as long as prohibition is in place and the illicit drug supply is contaminated, so we are also actively exploring safer supply and legal regulation of all drugs as part of the conversation.
We send our deepest condolences to all that have lost someone to overdose. We remain committed to saving the lives of our loved ones and preventing these tragedies. Thank you for standing with us in our fight to end the drug war and build a bridge to alternative policies grounded in health, equity, and human rights.
Drug Policy Alliance
P.S. Friend, as I mentioned above, it is past time for action because overdose deaths are preventable. If you can, please make a donation today to help us fight anti-drug and “tough on crime” rhetoric and punitive policies peddled by some elected officials that continue to block lifesaving overdose prevention and public health policies.