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Mayor Janey recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day, National Recovery Month 2021


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Recovery Services

The City of Boston’s commemoration will include awareness and community events, including a discussion with “Empire of Pain” author Patrick Radden Keefe.

Today, Mayor Janey recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day, with the goal of raising awareness about overdoses in Boston, reducing the stigma surrounding addiction, and honoring the memory of friends and family who have lost their lives to substance use disorder. In their honor, Mayor Janey will light City Hall in purple tonight, in partnership with the Baker-Polito Administration’s illumination of Government Center, South Station, and state bridges, including Longfellow and Zakim in Boston, Fore River in Weymouth-Quincy, and Burns in Worcester. Also today, Mayor Janey will join the Office of Recovery Services, faith-based leaders and Councilor Frank Baker at a City Hall gathering recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day, ahead of September’s National Recovery Month.

“So many of us in the city of Boston have a connection with substance use disorder, whether it’s a family member, friend, someone in our community, or ourselves experiencing it,” said Mayor Janey. “International Overdose Awareness Day and National Recovery Month are important times for us to come together in memory of those we’ve lost and in support of those in recovery.” 

The convergence of the opioid epidemic with the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the urgency for preventing overdoses and promoting recovery in Boston. The pandemic heightened overdose risks by disrupting public health and social services, increasing social isolation, and changing the drug supply. Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts increased by five percent in 2020 compared to 2019, marking the first increase in annual opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts in three years. To meet residents’ needs, all city-run recovery services have remained open and operational throughout the pandemic. For more information on recovery services in Boston, please visit

Today’s remembrance events will lead into the start of National Recovery Month tomorrow. Observed every September, National Recovery Month provides an opportunity to celebrate individuals living in recovery and to build community awareness about the services and supports available for individuals along their road to recovery. 

“Each and every day our Recovery Services team gives hope and support with professionalism and compassion to the people of Boston,” said Jen Tracey, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services (ORS). “We honor and remember those we have lost this past year and want everyone to know that we will continue to adapt to the epidemic and prioritize safe access to recovery services for all Boston residents.” 

During National Recovery Month, Boston residents can join author Patrick Radden Keefe to discuss his critically acclaimed book Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty on September 19 at 2 p.m. This event is free to the public and was made possible thanks to the collaboration between ORS, the Office of Arts and Culture and the Boston Public Library (BPL), in partnership with RIZE Massachusetts. Event details, along with a Recovery Month reading list and further resources, can be found at

The book talk is the latest collaboration that integrates art with recovery. Earlier this month, Mayor Janey announced the City commissioned three murals at the City’s Engagement Center in Newmarket Square by art collective Mz. lcar and artists Rixy and Alex Cook. 

“Art can play such a powerful role in recovery, and we’re excited to be a part of this month’s programming,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. “We’ve seen how art has inspired people to make change in their communities and improve their own wellbeing, and we’re continuing to work toward making those opportunities to engage in the arts accessible to all residents.” 

Residents are encouraged to participate in the many additional events and opportunities happening throughout the city in honor of National Recovery Month, including: 

About the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services 

The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services, created in 2015 is the first municipal office dedicated to substance use in the United States. Our highly localized, collaborative approach to substance use and addiction has helped to build key partnerships with City, state, and community partners to extend the reach of our work. We are rooted in advancing equity and serving the vast population of people in Boston with substance use disorders, who are in their recovery journey, or are friends, family members, providers and community members. 

About the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture 

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is a City agency that enhances the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the City through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced through equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Key areas of work include support to the cultural sector through grants and programs, support of cultural facilities and artist workspace, as well as the commissioning, review, and care of art in public places. 

About RIZE Massachusetts 

RIZE Massachusetts is an independent nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts and reduce its devastating impact on people, communities, and our economy. 

About Patrick Radden Keefe 

Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author, most recently, of the New York Times bestseller, "Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland", which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, was selected as one of the ten best books of 2019 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal, and was named one of the “10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Decade” by Entertainment Weekly. His previous books are "The Snakehead" and "Chatter". His work has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. He is also the creator and host of the eight-part podcast "Wind of Change". 

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