Join Fresh Start California of Orange Country as we observe International Overdose Awareness Day: a vision to end the global overdose crisis.
The global overdose crisis is widespread, claiming the lives of 585,000 people in 2017 alone. According to the World Health Organization, in the United States alone, overdose deaths have skyrocketed 21% just since 2016, causing North America to have the highest drug-related death rate in the world with over 64,000 deaths per year. In addition to drug-related deaths, the trauma that resonates in witnesses, family, and friends after this loss is incalculable. However, it is important to remember that these deaths are preventable, and such is the overall purpose of International Overdose Awareness Day: to heal communities and prevent further harm.
What is International Overdose Awareness Day?
International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) was started by the Penington Institute in 2001 in Melbourne, Australia. In the near twenty years since, it has spread internationally, instigating awareness and activism in community organizers, non-profits and government organizers all aiming to reduce harm and commemorate lives lost from drug-related deaths.
The Penington Institute is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1995 by those who have lived-experience with drug-related deaths and substance abuse harm. The organization believes in productive prevention, focusing on “making individuals and families safer and healthier, helping communities, frontline services and governments reduce harm, respect human rights and improve the rule of law” by “tack[ling] drug use in a safe, effective and practical way.” They are well respected in the international community and engage in research, analysis, and community activism to succeed in their objective.
The statement of purpose of International Overdose Awareness Day is clearly stated by Penington Institute’s initiative:
“International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on 31 August each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.”
IOAD’s call to action is therefore to help spread awareness, recognizing that overdose and its radiating consequences are preventable. It is also a way to remember family members and friends lost as a result of overdose. By ending the stigma of drug-related death and understanding substance use disorders with an empathetic and actionable lens, we can work toward overdose prevention.
How Can You Participate in International Overdose Awareness Day 2020?
Whether you are recovering, or you are a loved one touched by the residual effects of drug addiction, there are actionable ways that you can participate in IOAD in raising awareness and destigmatizing addiction and overdose:
- Host or attend a community activity: In light of COVID, official events are held indoors or virtually, and can be found at the IOAD website. If you want to start your own small community event, you can officially register it to promote attendance. Even if large participation events aren’t your thing, safely gathering even a few others together can make a big difference. Check out the IOAD Event Organizers Support Kit for more information on organizing your own community activity.
- Purchase a badge, wristband or lanyard: Showing your support or demonstrating a personal loss caused by overdose by wearing these symbols of awareness is one of the easiest ways to participate.
- Post on social media: Follow the @overdoseawarenessday social media accounts to stay updated and post to your own using the hashtags #endoverdose and #overdoseaware to and amplify awareness through the online community, while also finding support and community for yourself with others around the world.
- Donate: Consider donating to the official campaign directly, or contacting your local community support systems and organizations that assist in local efforts of overdose awareness and prevention. These organizations are either run by the city or by nonprofits, and work with harm reduction and public health, as well as homeless crisis initiatives and youth outreaches.
As a global community, we can end the stigma of overdose and help treat and curb the damage done as a result of preventable drug-related deaths. Your actions, whether big or small, can make an impactful difference. Join us in observing International Overdose Awareness Day 2020 on August 31st in an effort to end the global overdose crisis and then usher in September, which is National Recovery Month.
For additional resources about International Overdose Awareness Day 2020 in Orange County and information about drug detox and rehabilitation, call us as Fresh Start of California. Our Southern California detox and rehab is here for you!