Based in Los Angeles, the non-profit organization, End Overdose, exists to promote harm reduction and prevent opioid overdose. On campus, UCR’s chapter strives to cultivate a safer culture surrounding drug use by providing free overdose response training to other student organizations, and by distributing free fentanyl test strips every Wednesday at the Belltower. According to Ruchi Shetti, one of the organization’s members, “By having conversations surrounding mental health, addiction and overdoses, students can exist in a safer space both on campus and off campus just by becoming more educated about substance use.”

End Overdose is an open space to provide resources and information to anyone – and they respect your anonymity and safety above all else. On a college campus, organizations that promote harm reduction are important because opioid overdose deaths are one of the main leading causes in the deaths of people from ages 18-45. “This group, which consists of college students, is uniquely vulnerable,” says Ruchi, “and around 42 percent of drugs that are tested come up positive containing opioids like fentanyl.”  Because of this, End Overdose provides judgment-free accessibility to naloxone (Narcan) and fentanyl test strips to ensure that even college parties can become safer spaces for people who are, at the end of the day, adults making their own decisions. 

In an effort to maintain realistic expectations, EO stresses the importance of preventative measures to opioid overdose rather than shaming the use of drugs in general. UCR’s chapter of End Overdose has even been recognized by major event organizers, like Insomniac Events, where student members got to attend festivals like Beyond Wonderland and Countdown to provide free and fast trainings to event goers to promote education on how to save a life in a drug-related emergency using overdose-reversing medications, as well as promoting testing drugs before taking them. 

The members of End Overdose contain a diverse group of students that feel passionate about educating their peers on substance use and minimizing the dangers as much as possible. Ruchi Shetti, a third-year pre-med student, joined the organization because of its progressive approach to caring for the lives of our student body at UCR. She is also passionate about making an impact on reducing the amounts of traumatic events people experience in their youth. “We don’t encourage drug use, but we do encourage education about using drugs safely because the intersectionality between mental health, substance abuse and death is important to be blunt about – it’s important to keep people educated and aware.” 

You can find End Overdose on Wednesdays tabling at the Belltower, where they provide a judgment-free zone to ask questions, obtain free fentanyl test strips, and free merch! On May 10, the organization will host a public training pop-up at the Belltower to show students how to use naloxone and testing strips. End Overdose strives to make a difference in student lives, especially ahead of major campus events like Spring Splash.

Follow their Instagram @endoverdose.ucr to stay updated on upcoming training workshops and access to resources.