It is no secret that addiction is a serious illness, leading to tens of thousands of deaths every year. In fact, according to the CDC, there were a total of 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States just during 2013. This amounts to approximately 20.7 deaths for every 100,000 people living in the country. Addiction and overdose have an overwhelmingly negative impact on society, leading to a loss of productivity, higher crime rates, and an increase in the incidence of co-occurring mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. Family and friends of individuals who struggle with addiction are also affected by this issue.
Because of the pervasive nature of addiction and the severity of its impact on all nations, International Overdose Awareness Day was created. The purpose of this annual event, which is always held on August 31, is to acknowledge the devastating impact of addiction and overdose, while also raising awareness of these issues. The event was first initiated in 2001 at The Salvation Army in St Kilda, Melbourne.
Why Do We Recognize Drug Overdoses Internationally?
Drug overdose is responsible for the deaths of countless individuals all around the world. The disease of addiction does not discriminate, taking the lives of people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic statuses. Nonetheless, there is a stigma surrounding drug-related death that makes it difficult to educate the public. This stigma also adds to the grief experienced by those friends and family members who have lost a loved one to a drug overdose.
The goal of International Overdose Awareness Day is to combat the stigma that surrounds this issue while also raising awareness. Drug-related deaths are entirely preventable. When people understand how to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction and overdose, the number of deaths will decrease. Also, International Overdose Awareness Day serves as an opportunity to acknowledge the loss of those who have already died of drug overdose or are living with a permanent injury related to a drug overdose.
Rise In Opioid/Opiate Overdoses
Overdose can occur with any drug, but this complication is even more prevalent among people using opiates or opioids. The CDC reports that these highly addictive drugs were responsible for nearly 70 percent of all overdose deaths in the United States during 2017. From 1999 to 2018, more than 446,000 people in the U.S. died from an opioid overdose. Although rates of death have decreased slightly in recent years, opioid addiction is still one of the most serious public health concerns in the country.
What Can You Do For International Overdose Awareness Day?
Some suggestions for honoring International Overdose Awareness Day include:
1. Wear Purple and Silver.
One of the easiest ways to honor International Overdose Awareness Day is by wearing purple and silver, as these are the official colors for the event. Silver signifies drug overdose awareness, while purple is representative of opioid addiction awareness.
2. Attend Local Events.
Many organizations and individuals around the country will be hosting different events in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day. Consider attending one of these events to show your support and socialize with other people who want to raise awareness about this issue. Some of these events may even be educational.
3. Plan an Event.
If you cannot find a local event for International Overdose Awareness Day, consider planning one of your own. For example, you may offer an educational session about recognizing the signs of overdose, or you may schedule an event designed to honor those individuals who lost their lives to overdose.
4. Spread Awareness on Social Media.
Another excellent way to honor International Overdose Awareness Day is to spread awareness of this event and the issue of overdose itself on social media. Simply post links to the official website for International Overdose Awareness Day and share your views on why this day matters. This is also a good opportunity to provide your social media contact with educational resources related to addiction and overdose, such as the signs and symptoms of overdose or statistics that highlight the severity of the issue.
International Overdose Awareness Day is an important event because it brings attention to an issue impacting individuals and families all over the country. Fortunately, drug overdose is entirely preventable. With the right treatment, individuals with addiction can overcome their disorder and build a healthier future.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2018