Vital Strategies Launches Five-Week Radio Campaign To Promote Naloxone and Other Harm Reduction Strategies
Philadelphia, PA—Top radio personalities in Philadelphia are taking to the airwaves and raising awareness in a campaign to stem the rising tide of overdose deaths in Philadelphia’s Black communities. Starting on Monday, December 11 and running for the following five weeks, radio hosts are urging audiences to take actions like carrying naloxone, learning about drug checking resources, and rejecting stigma as crucial measures to help save lives.
The radio personalities participating in the campaign include Audacy and KYW Newsradio Traffic Anchor Kyree Moses, iHeartMedia/105.3 WDAS host Adimu Colon, and iHeartMedia/WUSL Power 99 host Mikey Dredd. The campaign will air on the three local radio stations beginning on December 11 and will run for five consecutive weeks.
From 2018 to 2022, overdose deaths among Black Philadelphians increased by 87%, but decreased 12% among white Philadelphians. From 2020 to 2021 alone, fatal overdoses among Black women spiked by 29%. Vital Strategies is teaming up with influential radio personalities and their radio stations in Philadelphia to empower Black communities to take action.
“Stigma creates a culture of silence about drug use and overdose in the Black community. This Philadelphia radio campaign shines a light on this topic and the racial inequities that prevent Black people from accessing lifesaving harm reduction tools like naloxone and fentanyl test strips,” said Gloria Malone, Digital Strategist and Senior Manager for the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies. “Local radio hosts have always spoken up about issues in their communities, and we’re proud to partner with them to get the word out about how the overdose crisis disproportionately impacts the Black community and how that no longer needs to be the case.”
The campaign will highlight that in the United States and across Philadelphia, overdose deaths are rising most rapidly in the Black community. Listeners will be urged to get naloxone free of charge through SubstanceUsePhilly.com, a platform created by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to elevate health and harm reduction resources including naloxone, fentanyl test strips and xylazine test strips. Naloxone, also known by the brand-name Narcan, is a safe and easy-to-use medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, including respiratory depression. Naloxone is proven to save lives and drastically reduce incidents of fatal overdose. Fentanyl and xylazine test strips provide crucial information about the contents of a drug sample and allow people to make informed decisions about the drugs they consume and strategies they can use to keep themselves and their communities safer.
“While the number of Philadelphians lost to overdose remains highest in Kensington, rising overdose rates in our city can be attributed to surging overdose deaths among Black Philadelphians in other neighborhoods,” said Zoe Soslow, Technical Advisor for the Overdose Prevention Program at Vital Strategies. “Harm reduction means meeting people where they are. Open and honest conversations about how to address drug use with loved ones can reduce stigma and build trust. This radio campaign will encourage people who use drugs to seek harm reduction resources, and have those important conversations with their loved ones, neighbors and communities about overdose.”
In addition to providing resources on where and how people can access harm reduction supplies, the radio ads are building support for harm reduction, a public health approach to drug use that places the health and dignity of people who use drugs as the first priority of any response. Harm reduction strategies range from providing people with items such as naloxone and sterile syringes, to health care and supportive services like medications for opioid use disorder, an evidence-based treatment for substance use disorder.
The Philadelphia radio campaign builds on a similar effort implemented last summer in Milwaukee. Vital Strategies collaborated with local radio stations in Milwaukee to launch a radio campaign that aimed to educate local listeners about how the overdose crisis is disproportionately impacting Black communities and provide information about how people can access naloxone. The campaign generated positive media attention and increased overdose and naloxone awareness in the Black community.
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our overdose prevention program works to strengthen and scale evidence-based, data-driven policies and interventions to create equitable and sustainable reductions in overdose deaths. Work across seven U.S. states is supported by funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Overdose Prevention Initiative, launched in 2018, and by targeted investments from other partners.