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International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31st is international Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), and there’s so much we can all do to show our support.

Drug addiction does not discriminate, and with the opioid epidemic affecting so many lives, the need for advocacy regarding addiction treatment and other preventative measures is high. As a Boca rehab center for addiction, we’re aware of the rise in drug overdose deaths within the last few decades. That’s why we’re proud to combine our efforts with other facilities, organizations, and programs around the world to echo the message of National Overdose Awareness Day in 2021.

Worldwide Drug Overdose Statistics

Since 1999, nearly 841,000 people have died in the United States from a drug overdose, and over 70% of those deaths were linked to opioids.1 In addition to the opioid epidemic, the coronavirus pandemic required a level of separation that promoted self-isolation and fostered the use of drugs and alcohol. The anxiety, fear, worry, and loneliness that resulted from COVID-19 contributed to substance abuse in thousands of people, further contributing to the growing rate of drug-related overdoses. Below are some addiction and drug overdose statistics from different areas of the world.

  • There are nearly 35 million people in the world who suffer from drug use disorders.2
  • In 2017 alone, 585,000 people worldwide died as a result of a drug overdose.2
  • There were 53.4 million past-year opioid users globally in 2017.2
  • In 2017, there were 70,237 reported drug overdose deaths in the United States.2
  • In Canada, there were 3,998 opioid-related deaths in 2017.2
  • 2016 and 2017 saw the highest mortality rate and the largest number of overdose deaths in British Columbia.1
  • In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, there were 1,164 deaths involving heroin and morphine (46 percent of all deaths from drug use) in England and Wales in 2017.1
  • 21,174 opioid toxicity deaths occurred in Canada between 2016 and 2020.3
  • There were 4,393 reported deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2019.4
  • The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland increased by 6%, from 1,187 in 2018 to 1,264 in 2019, the highest death toll since 1996.5
  • There were 2,070 drug overdose deaths in Australia in 2018.6

While other areas of the world - like Europe and Australia - are also victims of substance use disorders related to drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine, North America leads the globe in drug-related deaths. Fortunately, the nation has rehab facilities like Banyan Boca that are dedicated to providing effective residential drug treatment for those battling addiction and seeking sobriety.

What Is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD)?

International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign focused on reducing drug overdose rates, breaking down stigmas and stereotypes about drug overdose, remembering those who have passed from overdoses, and helping the loved ones of overdose victims. IOAD was first initiated in 2001 by Sally J. Finn when she worked with The Salvation Army in St. Kilda, Melbourne. Since then, communities and organizations all over the globe have held events to raise awareness and remember those who we’ve lost to drug overdoses. Not only does the campaign promote action, discussion, and application of preventative measures for drug overdose, but it also supports those with loved ones who have died or suffered injury as a result of drug-related overdoses.

The goals of International Overdose Awareness Day include:

  • Offer loved ones of drug overdose victims the opportunity to publicly mourn in safe and judgment-free environments
  • Offer events that are inclusive of people of all backgrounds
  • Educate community members about the dangers of drug overdose and preventative measures they can take
  • Inform people about the dangers of substance abuse
  • Break down stigmas and prejudices surrounding drug overdose and addiction
  • Send a message to those battling addiction that they are loved and they are not alone
  • Prevent and reduce drug-related injury by providing the public with evidence-based preventative measures

Overdose is one of the many long-term effects of substance abuse. Drug overdose is often the result of growing physical tolerance and dependence on a drug. When users no longer experience the same high they once did with a certain dose, they may then increase their use to achieve their desired effect. This repeated pattern of behavior often ends in overdose. One of the best ways to prevent drug overdose is to receive addiction treatment. Banyan Treatment Centers Boca provides various drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in Florida for those who are battling addiction and want to get sober. We provide patients with the care they need to recover from substance abuse's physical and emotional repercussions and offer them the resources they need for long-term recovery.

International Overdose Awareness Day Events: How You Can Participate

There are numerous ways to participate in Overdose Awareness Day in 2021, from wearing a purple International Overdose Awareness Day ribbon to participating in Narcan (naloxone) training to learning how to help someone who’s overdosing. Below are a few ways you can be a part of International Overdose Awareness Day in 2021, both online and in-person.

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  • Educate yourself about drug-related overdose: To understand the dangers of drug overdose and the preventative measures you can take, you first have to learn about it. Some common signs of drug overdose include lack of response to stimuli, shallow breathing, blue lips or fingers, and gurgling or choking sounds. If you recognize overdose signs in someone, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you have access to Narcan and are trained in how to use it, you can administer it.
  • Share helpful information online: Social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are all great platforms where you can share more information on drug overdose. You can share helpful tips, signs to look out for, and information about IOAD events.
  • Post a tribute of a loved one you lost: While it can be difficult, celebrating the life of someone you lost to overdose is a special way to observe International Overdose Awareness Day. You can share videos, photos, or fond memories you shared with them and other loved ones in honor of their memory.
  • Attend a local IOAD event: Various International Overdose Awareness Day events are held in different states across the country. These events include candlelight vigils, memorial walks, Narcan (naloxone) training, and increasing public knowledge on drug overdose.
  • Host your own IOAD event: With the help of the event organizer’s support kit and your loved ones, you can hold your own Overdose Awareness Day event that’s open to your local community.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, do not wait to get help. The long-term effects of substance abuse can be detrimental. Call Banyan Boca now at 888-280-4763 for more information about the drug detox programs and addiction services we offer.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.