Kent County is “going purple” this month to help raise awareness of the opioid abuse epidemic that is still very much striking our community, the Eastern Shore, the state of Maryland and the entire nation.

This is the fourth year for Kent Goes Purple. The monthlong campaign is coordinated by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the Chestertown Rotary and the Kent County Behavioral Health Prevention Office.

The Kent County community continues to suffer the effects of the opioid epidemic. So many of us have been touched by it. All too often, that connection has come with the death of a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a coworker.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a nearly 30% jump nationwide in fatal drug overdoses last year, from December 2019 to December 2020. In the first quarter of 2021, the Eastern Shore saw a 16% increase in deadly overdoses, according to the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center.

Our opioid problems did not go away while we have focused on COVID-19. These increased overdose numbers occurred during the pandemic and serve as a stark reminder that we still have to keep our awareness up.

We join the organizers in encouraging Kent County residents and business owners to be a part of the effort by illuminating their homes, businesses, offices and churches with purple lights throughout September to help raise awareness of opioid use, prevention and recovery.

There also is a 5K color fun run/walk Sunday morning, Sept. 12 to help support Kent Goes Purple. It starts in Wilmer Park in Chestertown. Register online for this fun fundraiser at www.kentgoespurple.com.

Following the race, the day continues Sept. 12 with the annual Purple Jamboree from 10 a.m. to noon also in Wilmer Park. Fun family features including food, music and activities will be available along with important educational information on substance use disorder and recovery resources.

The Kent County News is joining the effort, turning the front page purple for the month. We also will be featuring informational stories on substance use disorder, prevention and resources for help. Check our Facebook page and our Kent Goes Purple gallery at www.thekentcountynews.com every morning for messages and information about substance abuse disorder.

Take this monthlong opportunity to learn more about opioids and about substance use disorder. Learn about important prevention strategies. Find help for someone you know. Visit websites like kentgoespurple.org, kent hd.org, beforeitstoolate.maryland.gov and www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose that offer a wealth of information and resources.

Join with Kent Goes Purple this month. Show your support be lighting up purple, enjoying a fun run and the Purple Jamboree and learning more about how you can help.

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