Massachusetts: Governor Healey Requests President Biden Lower Flags in Observance of International Overdose Awareness Day

Boston ~ Governor Maura T. Healey of Massachusetts has sent a letter to President Biden requesting that he lower flags to half-mast on August 31, 2023, in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day and in remembrance of the millions of American lives lost to the overdose crisis. This action would allow Massachusetts to lower its flags as well.

The Governor expressed her deep sorrow for the hundreds of thousands of Americans and Massachusetts residents who have lost their lives due to the overdose crisis. She believes that lowering the flags on International Overdose Awareness Day will help honor their memories, call attention to the overdose crisis, and break down the stigma that prevents people from seeking lifesaving treatment.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll also commented on this request, saying that it is an important moment to remember those who have been lost and recommit ourselves to challenging stigma and expanding access to care. Lowering the flags in observance of this solemn day will help raise awareness of this public health crisis, which disproportionately impacts Black, Latino and Indigenous residents.

Since 1999, more than one million Americans have died from overdoses. In Massachusetts alone, 22,000 people have died from overdoses since 2010; 2,357 residents in 2022 alone. International Overdose Awareness Day is recognized annually on August 31 as a way to remember these heartbreaking losses and recognize the pain of families, friends and communities impacted by this public health crisis.

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The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to taking a public health approach to addressing substance use disorder and saving lives. The FY24 operating budget signed by Governor Healey invests over $700 million towards combatting substance use disorder with $22 million for low-threshold housing that includes wraparound services, $2 million for evidence-based medication-assisted treatment programs such as three new mobile methadone delivery programs across the state, and funding for improving access to medications for opioid use disorder in correctional settings.

Cheryl Juaire from Team Sharing Inc., Maryanne Frangules from MA Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR), and Joanne Peterson from Learn To Cope all expressed their support for Governor Healey's request for President Biden's approval in lowering flags across the country on International Overdose Awareness Day. They believe it is an important way to memorialize those who we have lost while also breaking down stigma surrounding substance use disorder so more people can receive lifesaving treatment.

Governor Healey has urged President Biden's administration to consider taking this step in order to raise awareness about this public health crisis that continues ravage our communities every day.

Filed Under: Government, State

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