August 31 Is International Overdose Awareness Day: How Can You Help?

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Have you ever wondered how it would feel to save someone’s life?  It must be a truly uplifting experience.  However, the average person isn’t given an opportunity to save lives the way so many doctors, nurses, police, and first responders do daily.  But, you don’t have to be a specialist to make a difference in a person’s life.  One thing you can do is participate in International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31.  This annual campaign gives everyone the chance to be a part of a global effort to end overdose and save lives.  

What Is International Overdose Awareness Day?

International Overdose Awareness DayOn August 31 each year, people around the world take part in various events to remember those who died from overdose.  It is also a time to acknowledge the grief so many friends and family endure after losing a loved one to drug abuse.  

This year’s theme is ‘Recognizing Those People Who Go Unseen’.  Who are the unseen?  Overdose deaths affect not only family members and friends.  It also affects the dedicated people trying to save the lives of overdose victims.  

International Overdose Awareness Day also raises awareness of the risks of drug use and works to ensure that all communities have the resources to combat overdose.

Dramatic Increase in Overdoses 

Research shows that since 1999, drug overdoses have increased by 500% among people 15 to 24 years of age.  In 2021 alone, more than 105,000 fatal overdoses were reported.  Currently, the U.S. has the highest overdose rate worldwide with 66% of those deaths attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

In addition to overdose deaths, more than 181,800 non-fatal overdoses were recorded in the United States in 2022.  While it is remarkable that someone survives an overdose, a great deal of harm has been done as a result.  These individuals will likely suffer lifelong health consequences such as:

  • opioid-induced respiratory depression
  • brain injury  
  • short-term memory loss
  • decreased cognitive functioning 
  • a range of physical and mental disabilities

Studies show that a person who has a non-fatal overdose is more likely to have multiple overdoses.  When this happens, the health consequences are compounded, even though they may not be obvious.

When looking at these statistics, we can certainly appreciate the efforts of people who work to save lives from overdoses.  

How Can You Get Involved in International Overdose Awareness Day?

The goal of International Overdose Awareness Day is to bring people together to remember those who died or suffered injuries due to overdose.  It is also an opportunity to show support to the people who lost a loved one to overdose and to honor those who tried to save a life from overdose.  Whether you participate in a large event or organize a small event, you can make a difference.  

Here are some of the ways you can participate:

  • Hold an activity or event by bringing people together.  You can hold an event in your community or bring people together online.  Be sure to register your event to help people find events near them.  
  • Arrange a faith-based event that includes prayer meetings, hymns, and a candle-lighting ceremony in remembrance of lost loved ones.

Information on how to promote your event is available at IOAD Event Organizers Support.  You’ll also find a checklist for holding your event and suggestions on what to do during and after the event.

If you don’t have time to organize an event, find one that you can attend locally or online.  You can also participate by donating to support International Overdose Awareness Day.

Government Grants to Fund Overdose Prevention Efforts

Last year on IOAD, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a $79.1 million overdose prevention grant.  The grant is part of President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy for addressing the opioid and overdose epidemic.  

The funds will be allocated to various agencies and projects that are involved in substance use prevention and education.   

As a result of the grants and the hard work of the many advocates for overdose awareness, many lives will be saved.

At Design for Change, We Work Every Day to Prevent Overdose

One of the best ways to prevent overdose is to stop using addictive substances.  But, few people can manage to successfully overcome substance use on their own.  A professional addiction treatment program is the best option.  

At Design for Change, we offer a full continuum of care that addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of treatment for whole-person healing.  This evidence-based approach provides the most lasting recovery outcomes. Our clients enjoy a more productive, healthier lifestyle after treatment.  

If you are struggling with substance use and concerned about overdose, let us help you save your own life.  Contact our Lancaster, CA facility today to get started on a journey you won’t regret making.


overdoseday.com/ – Campaign Resources 2023

cdc.gov/drugoverdose/ – Evidence-Based Strategies for Preventing Opioid Overdose: What’s Working in the United States

aspe.hhs.gov/reports/non-fatal-opioid-overdose – Non-Fatal Opioid Overdose and Associated Health Outcomes: Finaly Summary Report

samhsa.gov/grants -On International Overdose Awareness Day, HHS Announces Awarding of $79.1 Million in Overdose Prevention Grants

International Overdose Awareness Day