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International Overdose Awareness Day: When and How to Participate

When is International Overdose Awareness Day? August 31 marks the annual observance of International Overdose Awareness Day—a day dedicated to remembering the lives lost to overdose. Overdose is an ongoing crisis in the U.S. and around the world. According to the National Safety Council, 98,268 people died from a preventable overdose in 2021, which is a 781% increase since 1999. 

Through drug abuse awareness campaigns like International Overdose Awareness Day, we can help reduce overdose deaths and improve the well-being of our families, friends, and communities. 

The History of International Overdose Awareness Day  

Overdose Awareness Day was created in 2001 by Sally J. Finn, a program manager at the Salvation Army, who wanted to help raise awareness about the short- and long-term consequences of drug overdoses.

Today, non-profits, governments, and community-based organizations use the day to spread the word about overdose prevention and solutions.

International Overdose Awareness Day: Important Statistics to Remember

  • The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics found that approximately 50% of people age 12 and older have used illicit drugs at least once in their lives. 
  • In 2020, 21.4% of people in the same age category used illegal drugs or misused prescription medications. 
  • Opioids kill more than 136 Americans daily. Among males, overdose-related deaths have increased at an annual rate of 14.16%. For females, that number is even greater—14.96%. 

The Purpose of Overdose Awareness Day              

International Overdose Awareness Day is about more than just spreading awareness. This annual campaign is an opportunity to educate people on how to talk about substance use. It is also a chance to create a non-judgmental environment so that those struggling with addiction can feel comfortable speaking up and seeking help. 

Businesses, communities, and non-profit organizations also use International Overdose Awareness Day to educate the public on overdose prevention strategies.       

The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day include: 

  • Providing valuable information on the causes of fatal overdoses
  • Initiating ongoing discussions about policies that prevent overdoses
  • Educating friends and loved ones about their risk
  • Preventing harm associated with substances
  • Informing the public about effective treatment solutions
  • Encouraging participation in awareness activities and events 

Doing Your Part on Awareness Day

The opioid epidemic has affected millions of people in America and worldwide, adding to the number of overdose victims. Even if you have not been directly impacted by the opioid epidemic, it is likely you know someone who has been. 

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to voice your support for overdose prevention, starting with supporting the ongoing efforts of organizations around the world. 

Here is a list of activities:

  • Educate your network: Reach out to friends, co-workers, and family members to educate them on overdose-related topics. The more people you engage with, the easier it will be to raise collective awareness.
  • Wear purple: The color purple symbolizes the importance of having open and non-judgmental conversations about substance use disorders. It also serves as a reminder that every life is valuable and worth living. 
  • Hold a candlelight vigil: Candlelight vigils are a respectful and simple way to bring members of a community together to remember overdose victims and shine a light on the need for prevention. 
  • Contact state and federal legislators: Make it clear that you support legislation designed to prevent overdoses and promote addiction treatment options. 
  • Host an event: Get creative with your event and think of something that inspires others to take action. You can put together a walk or charity evening, or you can host a training to teach people how to respond when a loved one shows signs of an overdose. 

Seek Help for a Substance Use Disorder from BAART Programs 

International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those we have lost and reassess the ways we work together to help those struggling find the path to addiction recovery. If you or anyone you know needs support during the recovery process,  can help. 

We provide personalized and effective treatment services for those struggling with substance use, and we can help reduce their dependence on opioids, such as prescription medications, fentanyl, or heroin. 

Contact us to learn how we can help. 

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