Every year, International Overdose Awareness Day serves as a reminder of the devastating toll that drug overdoses take on individuals, families, and communities worldwide. On August 31st, people from all walks of life come together to raise awareness about overdose prevention, reduce stigma, and offer support to all those affected by overdose. It is a day to remember those we have lost to overdose, support and celebrate survivors, and educate the public about the importance of prevention and treatment.
International Overdose Awareness Day began in 2001 and has since been held annually. The campaign seeks to address the stigma associated with drug use and overdose by encouraging open conversations and compassion. By promoting awareness and understanding, we can work together to eliminate judgment and create a supportive environment where people can seek help without fear of stigma or discrimination. The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day are to:
- Provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.
- Include the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events, and encourage non-denominational involvement.
- Provide information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.
- Send a strong message to current and former people with substance use disorder that they are valued.
- Stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
- Provide basic information on the range of support services that are available.
- Prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.
- Inform people around the world about the risk of overdose.
The theme of this year’s International Overdose Awareness Day is “recognizing those people who go unseen.” Overdose affects an individual’s family and friends, first responders, healthcare workers and other support services, and the community as a whole. The goal of this year’s campaign is to “acknowledge and support the people in our communities who go unrecognized by raising awareness of the hidden impacts of overdose, promoting education of overdose response, and reaching out to politicians to make lasting, lifesaving policy changes.” Visit overdoseday.com to learn more and support the 2023 campaign.
Below are some things you can do this International Overdose Awareness Day to help prevent overdose in your community:
1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about the signs and symptoms of an overdose, the risk factors, and the available resources for prevention and treatment. An overdose may be fatal, non-fatal, intentional, or accidental, but all overdoses occur when a person has more drug in their body than their organs can tolerate. Overdoses can cause a wide variety of symptoms depending on the person and the drug, but the most common are nausea and vomiting, loss of consciousness or responsiveness, and slowed breathing. If you suspect someone is experiencing drug overdose, it is important to call an ambulance immediately.
2. Participate in Events: Check for local events organized on International Overdose Awareness Day or hold your own event, even if it only involves a few people! There are also many virtual events that focus on overdose prevention, harm reduction strategies, and support services. By participating, you contribute to the strength of the movement and help create a unified voice against overdose.
3. Practice Medication Safety: A common misconception is that overdose can only occur from illicit or “street drugs.” Any drug, including alcohol and medications prescribed by your doctor, can result in an overdose. Your PharmaChoice Pharmacist is a valuable resource when it comes to understanding medication safety. Reach out to them with any questions or concerns you may have about your medications, including safe storage, how to safely take your medication, and what to do if you suspect you or a loved one have overdosed.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a time for us to come together and work towards ending overdose. On August 31st, consider those who have been affected by overdose in your life and community and what you can do to prevent it from happening moving forward. By understanding what an overdose is and what to do if you suspect an overdose, you are making your community a safer place. It is important to recognize that all drugs can cause overdose when not taken properly, even the medications you receive from your pharmacy. Talk to your PharmaChoice Pharmacist today about safe medication practices and ways to prevent overdose.