International Overdose Awareness Day Comes August 31st, 2019
The National Safety Council (NSC) is encouraging Americans to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day on Saturday, August 31st, to remember loved ones and act toward preventing overdose. The frequency of opioid overdose, specifically, has reached alarmingly high levels.
Drug overdose deaths have become incredibly common around the world, but specifically in the United States. Many drug overdose deaths are preventable, and of the 61,311 preventable drug overdoses in the country in 2017, about 70 percent of those (about 43,000) involved opioids.
The use and overdose of opioids has skyrocketed in recent years due to a lack of public education about the topic and over prescription of the drug by physicians and pharmaceutical companies. From 2016 to 2017, preventable opioid deaths increased by nearly 14 percent. Since 1999, they are up a whopping 633 percent.
International Overdose Awareness Day is a way for people to remember lost loved ones, come together in solidarity, and advocate for awareness and education about preventable drug overdose. “Opioid misuse touches one in every four Americans, and these deaths are completely preventable,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “It is also a time to reduce stigma and prevent future deaths by supporting education and advocacy efforts.”
Commemorating International Awareness Day can involve many forums and community gatherings like attending in a vigil, sharing art-based projects memorializing lost lives, or participating in an educational program that covers information on administering naloxone (the opioid overdose reversal drug) or disposing of unused medications in the home.
Other ideas for recognizing Overdose Awareness Day can be found at nsc.org/overdoseawarenessday. For example, you can do any of the following:
- Visit the NSC Facebook page for a purple frame for your profile image or share the virtual candlelight vigil on August 30th.
- Support NSC efforts by making a donation gift in honor of a loved one.
- Provide a safe space for telling the stories of overdose victims.
The NSC is already seeking ways to prevent future misuse of opioids and drug overdoses, and one way is by providing Warn Me labels sized to fit on insurance cards. These labels won’t cover up important
information, and they are meant to encourage patients to ask questions about the risks of prescribed opioids and what other existing, safer alternatives they may have.
Each day the world loses about 130 individuals to opioid overdose. On August 31st this year, join the community to put work toward an end to the problem.