International Overdose Awareness Day: A Global Call for Understanding, Compassion and Change
Aug 16, 2023
Honoring International Overdose Awareness Day 2023
In America, someone dies of an overdose every five minutes.
Every year on August 31st, communities across the globe come together to mark International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). This international event serves not only as a somber remembrance of lives lost to drug overdose but also as an impassioned call to action.
While IOAD commands our attention every year, it has taken on an even greater urgency in recent years. Opioid overdoses, driven by fentanyl, have reached epidemic proportions. In the context of the United States, it has become one of the most threatening public health crises:
- In the year leading up to September 2020, over 87,000 people overdosed.
- In 2021, Fentanyl overdoses became the number one cause of death of Americans ages 18-45.
- In 2022, 109,680 people died from fentanyl overdoses.
- By the end of the decade, fentanyl overdose deaths are predicted to claim another 2 million lives.
When considering these staggering statistics, we must remind ourselves that behind every data point there is a real person who deserved support and care. By raising awareness, promoting understanding and advocating for change, we can work together toward a world where no life is needlessly lost to overdose.
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Why International Overdose Awareness Day Matters
Drug overdose is a global phenomenon, taking lives across age groups, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. In many parts of the world, however, this tragedy is often overshadowed by stigma, misunderstanding and lack of information.
The importance of IOAD lies, then, in its threefold mission:
- Educating the public. By providing factual information about drug overdose, its signs and prevention measures, IOAD plays a crucial role in dispelling myths that contribute to unnecessary fatalities.
- Combatting stigma. Drug-related deaths are frequently met with judgment rather than sympathy. IOAD promotes a message of compassion and understanding, reminding us all that every life lost is someone’s child, parent, friend or partner.
- Remembering the lost. For many families, IOAD offers a platform to commemorate their loved ones, share their stories and find solace in a supportive community.
Taking Action: Evidence-Based Solutions
Overdose is preventable. By pushing for evidence-based drug policies and interventions, many lives can be spared. Some key strategies include:
- Naloxone distribution: Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse opioid overdoses. Increasing access to this antidote, especially for those most at risk, is essential.
- Drug education: Comprehensive drug education can equip individuals with knowledge, making them less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
- Policy reform: Advocating for policies that treat drug addiction as a health crisis rather than a criminal behavior can help channel resources towards effective, compassionate solutions.
Joining the Cause
While we might feel powerless in the face of an epidemic, there are a number of concrete, productive steps we can take. Here are some ways to participate in IOAD:
- Wear a purple ribbon. The simple act of wearing the official symbol of overdose awareness can spark conversations and spread the message.
- Host or attend an event. From candlelight vigils to educational workshops, there are numerous ways to get involved.
- Educate yourself and others. Share resources, stories, and facts about overdose on social media platforms to raise awareness.
- Donate. Support organizations working on the front lines of the overdose crisis.
How CleanSlate Supports the Mission of International Overdose Awareness Day
CleanSlate’s treatment programs provide FDA-approved medications to help manage withdrawal, curb cravings and prevent relapse. Together with integrative treatment, including behavioral health therapy, pregnancy care, Hepatitis C treatment and community services, our treatment is a highly effective approach to overcome opioid use disorder and live the life you want in recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, call (833) 505-4673 today to reclaim your life