We Are Allies was founded at the first-ever Opioid Epidemic Challenge Summit and Hackathon (opioidhackathon.com) hosted by Mass General Hospital and the GE Foundation in September 2016 by a group of concerned community members, addiction experts, pharmacists and individuals in recovery.
WHO WE ARE
We Are Allies (WAA), Inc. is an innovative nonprofit company founded by a group of medical experts, pharmacists, military veterans, designers and people in long-term recovery addressing the opioid crisis by fighting the stigma of addiction and deploying the lifesaving overdose reversal drug naloxone into communities. Our goal is to help prevent opioid overdose deaths and to support our friends and neighbors suffering from addiction.
As Allies, we can immediately save lives by carrying naloxone in our highly-visible naloxone carrying cases. We also equip Allies, through our website and anti-stigma social media campaign, to teach others to think about addiction as a chronic disease rather than a personal failing. Over time we hope that Allies, recognizable by our externally-worn purple cases, will erase the stigma associated with substance use disorders by catalyzing conversations among friends, families and communities to show that those suffering from opioid use disorder are not alone. We Are Allies is here for them.
In 2017 over 2,100 people in Massachusetts died from an opioid overdose – nearly one death every 4 hours. Incredibly, that is up 4-fold from the number of overdose deaths in 2010, and the 7th consecutive year opioid-related deaths have risen in the state.
The epidemic is by no means limited to Massachusetts. This is a national epidemic, on track to escalate over the next decade if it is not addressed with serious urgency. In fact, national overdose deaths are now the number one cause of death for men under 50.
The stigma of addiction can be just as deadly as the opioids themselves; those suffering from the disease of addiction face not only debilitating dependency, but also the stigma of being blamed for their situation.
91 Americans die every day from an opioid
Drug overdoSes now kill more people
than gun homicides and car crashes
WHAT IS AN ALLY?
An Ally is a customer advocate for our mission; someone who has joined the organization and is both prepared to respond to those in need of overdose rescue as well as to fight stigma. An Ally is not only ready to save lives; they actively fight stigma by displaying their Ally case and have informed conversations about the epidemic. Each externally-worn case functions as a symbol of solidarity to those affected by the opioid epidemic, showing that they are among a community committed to recovery. Those who become Allies understand that addiction is a disease, and they are willing to talk about the problem. Taken together, Allies form the frontline of the organization; individuals dedicated to saving lives and fighting stigma.
WHY BECOME AN ALLY?
Allies help to build a leading national brand of commitment to fight the stigmas surrounding addiction and end the opioid overdose epidemic. After signing on to become an Ally, you can elect to receive a naloxone carrying case, which directly serves two purposes 1) to demonstrate support within your community and 2) to provide a convenient method for carrying the overdose reversal drug naloxone.
Additionally, We Are Allies functions as a platform to connect Allies to each other, provide materials and content to educate others about the epidemic, foster conversations, and to mobilize Allies to participate in activities, such as contacting legislators, having conversations with friends, or participating in rallies or other demonstrations of solidarity. These efforts facilitate the creation of an Ally network that can deliver lifesaving naloxone, fight stigma surrounding addiction, and build an environment conducive for recovery.
HOW YOU CAN BECOME AN ALLY
There are many ways to combat the Opioid crisis as an Ally, check out the options for getting involved below!
RESOURCES FOR ALLIES
Check out our collection of resources focused on developing skills for discussions on opioids, properly administering naloxone, and more.