Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Vital Strategies launch public arts campaign to illustrate impact of drug overdose crisis

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In honor of International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31 and National Recovery Month in September, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Vital Strategies are partnering with community-based organizations to launch a public arts campaign aimed at broadening awareness of the drug overdose crisis in Michigan.

National reporting shows drug overdoses spiked during the pandemic. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data shows more people died of an overdose in 2020 than any other year on record in the United States, reemphasizing the need to create communities foundationally rooted in compassion and dignity for people who use drugs and people in all stages of recovery.

“We’re proud to support this partnership, which will draw on the storytelling power of art in communities hard-hit by the surging overdose crisis,” said Daliah Heller, director of drug use initiatives, Vital Strategies. “Art has power, and this community-driven initiative can bring people who use drugs out of the shadow of stigma and promote a supportive and caring response.”

Overdose Awareness Day recognizes the risks of overdose, honors individuals whose lives have been lost, reduces stigma of drug-related harms and acknowledges the collective grief felt by friends, families and communities impacted by the drug overdose crisis.

In partnership with the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte, MDHHS and Vital Strategies will commission artists affected by the drug overdose crisis to create art for a powerful exhibit entitled Collective Healing through Art: 2021 Overdose Awareness Day Exhibit.

“Downriver Council for the Arts is honored to support this initiative to broaden awareness of the drug overdose crisis that has taken so many lives across the state,” said Erin Suess, executive director of Downriver Council for the Arts, “Art is healing, and this opportunity will empower individuals impacted by this crisis and create a space for collective healing for anyone impacted by the drug crisis.”

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