A Look at International Overdose Awareness Day

by | Aug 31, 2019 | Addiction | 0 comments

Overdose Awareness Day in 2019

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Over 72,000 Americans died from a drug-related overdose in 2017. Overdoses caused by illicit drugs and prescription drugs increased two-folds within the last decade.” 

Overdose rates are continuing to climb in America. More and more Americans are losing their lives to both prescription drugs and illicit drugs. To raise awareness for this issue, we now have an International Overdose Awareness Day. Annually, this day falls on August 31st.

International Overdose Awareness Day was first started by Sally J Finn in 2001. Since then, many communities have come together to raise awareness for this issue. You’ll find different types of events all over the world. 

As of now, overdose rates continue to climb and show no signs of slowing down.  It’s important that we raise more awareness for this issue, as it has become a raging epidemic over the years.  Let’s take a look at the different ways that you can participate and make a difference on International Overdose Awareness Day if you reside in America. 

Overdose Awareness Day History

Overdose Awareness Day began with a conversation between two Salvation Army workers in Australia. (Leo Reynolds/Flickr)

Overdose Awareness Day began with a conversation between two Salvation Army workers in Australia. (Leo Reynolds/Flickr)

The history of Overdose Awareness Day can be found in two primary locations: the official website for Overdose Awareness Day, and the website for The Salvation Army Crisis Service Programs. If you’re wondering why the Salvation Army would host a page on the history of Overdose Awareness Day, the answer is actually quite simple—they were largely responsible for the day’s inception. Overdose Awareness Day was started in Melbourne in 2001, following a conversation between Sally Finn (manager of a needle and syringe program in St. Kilda, Victoria) and Peter Streker (coordinator of the Community and Health Development Program at the City of Port Philip in Melbourne).

Finn was inspired by stories that she had encountered personally. She had counseled those who lost loved ones to overdose, and she met one person who had known seventeen such casualties. Through her counseling efforts, she became highly familiar with the stigma we discussed earlier. In speaking on the inspiration behind Overdose Awareness Day, she had this to say: “For mums and dads, who haven’t had much to do with the drug scene, this day is a non-threatening opportunity to speak the truth about what has happened to their families.” She continued by saying that those who attend Overdose Awareness Day events “often say the commemoration helped them experience a sense of peace.”

The first incarnation of Overdose Awareness Day was a simple ribbon ceremony for those who wanted to honor a friend or family member who was lost to the world as a result of drug overdose. The event was so successful that approximately six thousand ribbons were given out in total. Over the course of the next year, news of Overdose Awareness Day spread throughout Australia and New Zealand. They soon came out with the steel badge, which provided a slightly more tangible symbol of remembrance than the ribbons that had been previously used.

It wasn’t too long before Overdose Awareness Day was embraced across the globe. Overdose Awareness Day events can now be found in Norway, India, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Its organization was taken over by the Penington Institute in 2012, but the Salvation Army Crisis Services program still considers Overdose Awareness Day to be a proud moment in their history. They continue to advocate against the negative stereotypes that cause some people to look down on every overdose death as “just another junkie.”

Monday of next week will be the fifteenth Overdose Awareness Day, and there will be events all over the world in honor of those who have lost their lives while struggling with addiction. Further below, we’ll discuss some of the larger events available to our friends in the United States, as well as other ways in which you can contribute to the cause of spreading awareness to the less informed. For now, however, we’re going to talk a little bit about why Overdose Awareness Day is so important, and why we must all do what we can to help spread the message.

Overdose Statistics in America

Let’s take a look at some overdose statistics in America. These numbers should give you an indication of how problematic drug and alcohol abuse is in America. 

  • 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 were caused by opioids. Prescription opioids have been the cause of more and more deaths. In 2007, only 18,515 overdose deaths were attributed to the use of prescription opioids. Some of the most commonly abused prescription opioids include oxycodone, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, codeine and fentanyl. 
  • Americans between the ages of 25 to 44 are most susceptible to overdoses. These individuals are more likely to experiment with drugs. They are also more likely to get hooked on prescription opioids and opiates.
  • Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in America. Drug overdose deaths now exceed the number of deaths that are attributed to car accidents, firearms, homicides or HIV/AIDS. Another interesting fact is that more Americans have died from drug overdoses in 2017 than in the entire Vietnam War.

The numbers show that more and more people are succumbing to drug and alcohol-related overdoses. It’s vital that the government puts more effort into reducing overdose death rates. 

Find an Event Near You

If you’re interested in participating in International Overdose Awareness Day, take a look online at the many different events that may be hosted in your city or state. Here are some of the events that are hosted in America:

  • Overdose Awareness Day Hamilton County Coalition & Partners hosted at the Bethlehem Center on 200 W. 38th Street in Chattanooga. This public event is hosted at 11:00 AM, and will include an overdose education training. There will also be a moment of silence at this event, along with a balloon release. Narcan will also be provided at no cost to attendees.  
  • Overdose Awareness March and Vigil hosted at the Pima County Superior Court on 110 W Congress St in Tucson, AZ. This event will happen at 5:30 PM. There will be a vigil and march to show support for those who were lost in the drug war. Those who are interested in going to this event can bring their own posters, banners and materials to add to the shrine. 
  • Community Walk & Beach Ceremony at 403 East Montecito St. This event will start at 4:00 PM. Those who are interested in joining this event should wear purple and silver to show their support. 

There are events being hosted in every city and state. It’s easy to find an event on International Overdose Awareness Day near you. If you are having difficulties finding an event to go to, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can point you in the right direction.

How You Can Participate on International Overdose Awareness Day If You Can’t Make It to an Event

In the event that you can’t make it to an event, you can still raise awareness for this epidemic. Here are some other ideas on how you can participate on International Overdose Awareness Day:

  • Show your support by wearing a silver bade, a purple wristband or a purple lanyard. These colors show support to those who may be undergoing grief.
  • Hold a candlelight vigil. It’s a good idea to welcome others to bring banners, photographs and other items to commemorate those that they have lost. 
  • Host an educational program. Trump has declared America to be in a state of national crisis. The opioid epidemic has become a public health crisis. Education programs on how to prevent opioid use can help lower overdose rates. There are many campaign materials that can be used as resources. 
  • Provide a safe space for overdose victims to talk about their addiction or their experiences. This can help many recovering addicts remain motivated to their recovery goals.
  • Support the National Safety Council (NSC) by making a donation. The NSC makes an effort to lower overdose rates by offering a variety of programs.
  • Follow the Facebook page for International Overdose Awareness Day. Learn more about the different ways that you can help raise awareness. There may be different events that are happening around you. You can also use this Facebook group to connect with others who need your help.

There are many different ways that you can participate and make a difference on International Overdose Awareness Day. You don’t necessarily have to follow the suggestions above. You can use your own creativity to come up with an event that may raise awareness for this public health crisis. 

What You Can Do to Prevent Overdoses on a Regular Basis

Overdose Prevention
Don’t just raise awareness for alcohol and drug-related overdoses on August 31st. It’s important that we, as a nation, tackle this problem head on a regular basis. Don’t just make an effort to reduce overdose rates on a specific day. Here are some ways that you can prevent overdoses on a regular basis:

  • Educate both yourself, your family and your loved ones. Educate yourself and those around you about addiction. Learn about different vices. Those who are educated about the dangers of drugs and alcohol are less likely to get addicted. They are also more likely to seek help when things go south. 
  • Seek addiction treatment help for those who need it. It’s important to know when to get help. If you need addiction treatment, look for a rehab facility that offers Joint Commission Accreditation. It’s also a good idea to look for rehab facilities that may help those you suspect of struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD).
  • Learn how to use Narcan and have it readily available at all times. Opioid addiction rates have been steadily climbing. The best way to prevent a deadly opioid overdose is to administer Narcan as soon as possible. This prescription medication can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • Learn how to recognize the signs of an overdose. Learning how to spot an overdose is crucial. Those who take quick action are able to prevent deadly consequences. 
  • Store your medications in a secure and safe place. Many addicts get their drugs from family members and close friends who were prescribed the drug. To prevent others from abusing your drugs, store your meds in a secure and safe place.

Make a difference by doing what you can to prevent overdoses. This public health crisis has become an epidemic. 

The Amethyst Recovery Center Aims to Lower Overdose Rates

Here, at Amethyst Recovery Center, we sympathize with those who have lost a loved one to an overdose. We offer a wide range of individualized addiction treatment programs that help those who are addicted to alcohol and drugs. Those who complete our programs are less likely to relapse and are more likely to abstain from alcohol and drugs for life.

If you are interested in getting admitted into one of our programs or if you’re concerned for a loved one, get in contact with us by calling us at 888-309-9689. Our goal is to help our patients achieve lifelong recovery. We hope to make a difference by doing our part to lower overdose rates.  

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