Across California, ISUDT Ambassadors and other program support staff facilitated in-prison events and messaging to observe International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) which occurred Aug. 31, 2023.
The campaign raised overdose awareness for one of the world’s worst public health crises and focused on evidence-based overdose prevention strategies, while acknowledging the profound grief felt by families and friends whose loved ones have died or suffered permanent injury from a drug overdose.
IOAD spreads the message about the tragedy of drug overdose death and that drug overdose is preventable.
It is a campaign with missions that support all communities, including incarcerated populations and CDCR/CCHCS staff and their families. The efforts also align with the ISUDT Program, including overdose awareness, support of expanding access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), and promotion of mental health services.
Many institutions shared news of their localized efforts, compiled below.
California Medical Facility
Staff at California Medical Facility worked alongside mentors from the Offender Mentor Certification Program to host a collaborative event with Center Point Inc. and Urban Alchemy that included:
- Basketball trivia
- A “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” themed quiz
- Poetry and artwork by incarcerated people
- Information booths on IOAD and community partners
Participants also received IOAD flyers, newsletters, and engaged in discussions with staff from various program areas. Mentors helped operate the various booths and games and hosted live music that carried throughout the event.
California State Prison, Sacramento
Staff at California State Prison, Sacramento were welcomed by an IOAD team at the facility entrance. They displayed IOAD signs and messaging and engaged arriving peers. The team also handed out candy and shared information on where anyone can receive free Narcan.
For people in the Sacramento area, information can be found at https://www.safersacramento.com/.
The California Department of Public Health also supports a nationwide resource for Naloxone distribution, courtesy of the National Harm Reduction Coalition.
CSP-Los Angeles County
Multi-discipline staff from California State Prison Los Angeles County (LAC) throughout the institution rallied together for an insightful and widely participated event on August 31, 2023, planned by the ISUDT Ambassador team and ISUDT Resource Team. LAC staff welcomed formerly incarcerated men, now employed and thriving in recovery, to speak and share experiences and best practices.
Staff also hosted staff education booths, shared testimonials from ISUDT participants and welcomed speakers from Project 180 LA, East LA College and the Amity Foundation. Staff also created and shared tri-fold posters on MAT and resources from external partners while infection control staff and nursing students passed out overdose prevention information on prison yards.
Teams at California State Prison, Corcoran (CSP-COR) spread throughout the institution to engage and observe. ISUDT staff operated stations at both entrances to distribute candy and IOAD flyers to their prison partners.
ISUDT and mental health staff also set-up booths and activity postings on prison yards and during MAT distribution. They worked alongside a team of CSP-COR incarcerated people from the “ISUDT Boot Camp.” The group of like-minded allies in recovery operated a booth and helped peers contribute to a memorial wall with messages of hope, peace, family, love and understanding. Those submissions were also crafted into a poster.
Centinela State Prison
Representatives from Imperial County Behavioral Health visited Centinela State Prison (CEN) on August 31, 2023 to provide information on resources supporting recovery in the community. They jointly operated information booths alongside CEN ISUDT Ambassadors in a new partnership.
The CEN team also donned ISUDT T-shirts and shared IOAD information, other supporting materials and baked goods with institution staff. The Ambassador team at CEN also sold shirts to raise funds to purchase and display an integrated CEN ISUDT tablecloth.
Ironwood and Kern Valley
Ironwood State Prison staff wore grey and purple and handed out purple ribbons and flyers. They also sent messages on tablets to the ISP population and emailed staff a message of IOAD awareness and ISUDT support.
Kern Valley State Prison offered a chance for incarcerated people to share IOAD messages during MAT distribution on each yard. These message boards were filled with messages of encouragement and remembrance.
California Institution for Women
ISUDT staff at California Institution for Women distributed a comprehensive flyer among staff (email) and the population (tablets) with a bevy of communication on:
- Overdose facts and causes/risks
- First responder awareness (what to do when you observe a possible overdose)
- Overdose awareness activities
- Recognizing those people who go unseen (the 2023 IOAD theme)
Valley State Prison
Valley State Prison staff passed out small gifts to population and staff from information booths, where attendees also received IOAD and ISUDT program information. The institution’s Inmate Advisory Council (IAC) members jointly operated these information booths and helped provide resources and information to all.
Chuckawalla Valley, Wasco, North Kern, Sierra Conservation Center
Chuckawalla Valley State Prison staff and incarcerated people walked the track on institution yards with a large IOAD banner. Walkers provided informational handouts regarding overdose to staff and the population.
The Wasco State Prison resource team wore drug overdose awareness shirts and staged in the nursing trailer to greet staff with snacks and overdose information. They passed out purple ribbons, purple ribbon pens and overdose awareness stickers. The resource team also walked out to each yard to make sure all staff were included.
North Kern State Prison displayed IOAD posters and passed out supporting flyers in all high traffic areas of the institution. Staff also hosted overdose awareness trivia contests.
Sierra Conservation Center shared IOAD posters around the institution and sent out an email to all staff on the international observance and the ISUDT program.
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, Folsom, San Quentin
Staff at Substance Abuse Treatment Facility hosted a booth jointly operated by the ISUDT team and IACs. They shared resources and information on IOAD and the life-saving program inside the facility.
Many institutions, like Folsom State Prison (FSP) and San Quentin Rehabilitation Center, sent out messages from leadership to all staff, recognizing the observance and highlighting efforts at that institution to reduce overdose deaths. FSP also shared messaging on population tablets.
Thank you to everyone who participated to observe IOAD.
By Ike Dodson, Information Officer II
CCHCS Communications, Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment (ISUDT) Program