International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held yearly on August 31st
The goal of this day is to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. It is also observed to provide support to families and loved ones of overdose victims. This is a day to hold in our thoughts and prayers those loved ones that we have lost, support families and friends that are grieving, provide education/resources and hope to those that are still struggling with drug addiction. Overdose Awareness Day was initially established in 2001 in Australia by Sally J. Finn and Peter Streker as a way to commemorate those who have lost their lives to overdose. In 2012, The Pennington Institute, an Australian non-profit health organization took over the responsibility of organization of the days events. This day originated in Australia but is now observed worldwide on the last day of August in preparation of September being Recovery Month!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that on average, 130 Americans die every day from drug overdose! In 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States. Opioids were involved in 49,000 of those overdose deaths. From 1999 to 2017 there was a significant rise every year in opioid overdose deaths that occurred from prescription painkillers, heroin, and other synthetic opioids. Preliminary data reports of 2018 statistics show that there has been a decrease of 5% in opioid related overdose deaths from 2017.
5% may seem like a small number but is significant in several ways:
-Over the past 20 years, the opioid overdose epidemic has not showed any signs of slowing down. 2018 is the first year over that span of time that there was a decrease in these tragic deaths.
-That 5% number isn’t just a number or statistic. It is 4,000 less precious lives lost than the previous year!
-It is also 4,000 less families that aren’t grieving and struggling to understand how such a tragic event could happen to their loved one!
Through the continued growth of awareness, prevention, harm-reduction and recovery resources, the tides are changing, leading the way to less overdose deaths and more lives saved.
If you are grieving a loss, trying to save the life of a loved one, or if you are struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for support and help!