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International Overdose Awareness Day: Get Involved

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Pills spill out of bottle as we examine the toll of overdose in the US on International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day has been observed since it was founded in Australia in 2001. Overdose, both fatal and non-fatal, is one of the world’s worst and most baffling public health crises. It occurs when the body ingests more of a drug, including alcohol, than it can process, leading to an overload of its systems. If left untreated, it can lead to death. It is important to understand that any drug can cause an overdose, even over-the-counter medicine or drugs prescribed by your doctor. An overdose can also occur by taking the appropriate dose of a drug but mixing it with another incompatible drug.

Overdose Day (or IOAD), now led by the Penington Institute, has since grown to serve multiple purposes — to remember loved ones lost to overdose, drum up public awareness and understanding of fatal and non-fatal overdose, increase awareness of publicly available support resources, spread education and research amongst the public, generate productive discussion, enact policy change, remove the stigma, and campaign to end overdose deaths.

Getting Involved

Host or attend an event. An event support kit is available here, and you can officially register your event here. A list of all the official IOAD events can be found here. You can also check out your local rehab centers and community organizations to see if they are doing anything to recognize the day.

Donate. So many people suffering from the disease of addiction do not have the resources to pay for the care they desperately need. If you have the means, you might consider a one-time or recurring donation to a nonprofit organization fighting to bring people back from the thrall of addiction. Many local and national organizations have teamed with and support International Overdose Awareness Day, and local is always a great place to start. There are even options online to purchase merchandise to show your support while contributing financially.

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Educate yourself and others. Share educational materials with your community to increase understanding and help prevent overdose. Education is key in reducing stigma; the more we can reduce stigma, the more barriers to treatment can be broken down. Understanding the disease, how to recognize an overdose, and how to administer naloxone can save lives. You can use our forum to ask our doctors any questions you may have about addiction or overdose. We have more educational resources listed here, including books recommended by our alumni. This is a great overview of overdose as it relates to alcohol, stimulants, opioids, and more. Of particular importance is the section on when to call an ambulance — understanding the signs of an overdose can give you the confidence to make a decision that will save a life. If you or someone you know uses opioids, you should make sure you have naloxone in your home. You can find out where to get free naloxone here.

Share your story. You can use social media to share your experience with addiction or what you have witnessed a loved one go through, or you can share a tribute to a loved one who was lost to an overdose. Post a tribute to the IOAD website here or take to social media to share your story. By using the hashtags #OverdoseAware and #EndOverdose you can join the community of individuals working to build momentum for the day and raise awareness and understanding through your story.

Volunteer. Local not-for-profit rehab and detox centers always need help with their work. As the addiction crisis grows, so do the demands on the organizations working to fight it. Reach out to your local center to see what they need, whether donations, someone to provide rides to 12-step meetings, or help with any other part of their life-saving operations. You don’t need to have personally gone through addiction to be a valued member of the community fighting it; all are welcome.

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No matter how you choose to get involved, here at Destination Hope, we will take some time this August 31st to remember the lives lost to overdose and help us work toward ending overdose deaths for good. If you or someone you know is ready to break free from the cycle of addiction, we stand ready to help. Reach out to us today.


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