International Overdose Awareness Day

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Overdose Awareness Day a Time to Mourn and Inform

Covid wasn’t the only epidemic that we experienced in 2020. Drug overdose deaths soared, too, climbing nearly 30%, to 93,000. (In 2019, 70,630 people died from drug overdoses in the United States.)

Most of the increases occurred in the South and the West.

Opioids factored into the majority of those deaths (including synthetics like fentanyl), but psychostimulants (like methamphetamine) are a problem, too. 

The pandemic, with its lockdowns, isolation, and reduced access to treatment and outreach, didn’t exactly help people’s mental health. 

Then there’s International Overdose Awareness Day, observed on August 31. The first event was held in 2001, in Australia, but over the last two decades it has grown into a global observance, with events planned near and far. (Including in Colorado.)

Addiction is Real

On the surface, it’s a call to raise awareness, but there’s a deeper message as well. Besides remembering those we’ve lost to substance use disorder, it’s also a time to remember that drug addiction is a real medical condition. It affects the individual physically and psychologically. It can lead to accidental deaths, injuries, cancers, and many other diseases. It can also factor into mental disorders like anxiety or depression, with some people resorting to drugs as a form of self-medication. Use also can contribute to a person’s depression just as much as it could lead to liver disease.

It also affects those who’ve lost loved ones to drug or alcohol use. They live on, yes, but their reality is dimmed by loss and grief, the what-ifs, and the whys.

OD Awareness Day Goals

Some of the goals of International Overdose Awareness Day include:

  • Raising awareness about addiction and the risk of overdose
  • Providing an opportunity to publicly mourn lost loved ones, free of shame or guilt
  • Letting people with substance use issues know they are valued
  • Sharing information about support services and treatment options

A number of events are planned, both near and far, to raise awareness on August 31 (as well as before and beyond). Events include free naloxone (which can reverse an opioid overdose) and naloxone training, picnics, candlelight vigils, workshops, and more.

Sources – ‘It’s Huge, It’s Historic, It’s Unheard of’: Drug Overdose Deaths Spike – Drug Overdose Deaths – Overdose Awareness Day – About the Campaign – Community Events – Naloxone Drug Facts

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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