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Overdose awareness event set for Friday

People are invited to learn about overdose prevention, drug treatment and recovery during the Rogue Valley’s second annual International Overdose Awareness Day event from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday.

The event will be at Pear Blossom Park in downtown Medford, adjacent to the Lithia Motors headquarters building.

“This event is about learning how a community can respond to the opioid epidemic,” said Julia Pinsky of Jacksonville, whose son Max died of an overdose in 2013. “It takes a community to lift us out of this tragedy and transform it. If a community cares, that is going to make a difference.”

Pinsky and her husband, David Pinsky, are the founders of Max’s Mission, a nonprofit organization that distributes free naloxone. Also known by the brand name Narcan, naloxone is available in a nasal spray that quickly reverses an overdose from opioids, which include heroin and prescription pain pills such as OxyContin.

Free naloxone will be distributed during the event in Medford. People receiving the nasal spray containers will also be trained on their use.

Food trucks will be on site and free hot dogs will be available while supplies last. Blues singer Karen Lovely will close the event with a performance.

Organizers say the event is a time to remember and honor those who have been lost to overdose, and to share hope and information with anyone struggling with prescription or illicit drug use, organizers said.

Attendees are invited to write notes about those they have lost and to bring photos to post on a remembrance board.

Julia Pinsky said people in recovery from addiction will share their experiences. Some are in the early stages of recovery, while others have been clean for years.

“We’re really grateful to those really brave people willing to speak out about that. It’s a journey,” she said.

She said people struggling with substance abuse need to know people in the community care.

Representatives from more than two dozen health and social services organizations will be on hand to provide information about substance abuse, addiction treatment options and related mental health issues.

Pinsky said the discussion on treatment will include drug abstinence methods, as well as medication-assisted treatment, which uses prescription medication to help curb cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms for those in recovery.

WinterSpring, which provides grief support services, will be among the organizations at the event.

“So many people have lost people they love,” Julia Pinsky said.

People at the event can also learn about legislative efforts to address the opioid addiction and overdose problem.

“It’s a bipartisan issue. Laws affect whether people live or die and whether they get treatment," she said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.