International Overdose Awareness Day was established in 2001 and takes place every year on August 31st. The event aims to raise public awareness of overdose and help people recognize its signs and respond effectively (read: How to Recognize and React to an Overdose).
The History Behind the Day
It all started with a discussion between Sally J. Finn and Peter Streker, both members of The Salvation Army in Melbourne, Australia. Hoping to encourage people to acknowledge the suffering of those who had lost a loved one to a drug overdose, Sally and Peter held an event where they handed out condolence ribbons to grieving families and friends. Since 2012, the event has been organized by the Penington Institute, which seeks to promote health and safety from drug-related harm.
A valuable resource against overdose
International Overdose Awareness Day is not only about honouring families or raising awareness about the risks of overdoses. Health organizations around the world are concerned about the increasing availability of new drugs (read: Évolution de la drogue…). The organizers of the event have created a Web portal describing the signs of overdose and how to respond. Using clear, concise language, the portal provides statistical data on overdoses and valuable information on the risks factors of drug use. Organizers have also developed an application to simplify access to the resource base and reach as many young drug users as possible. This is a vital resource given the growth in opioid use, which accounts for the majority of overdose-related deaths. In Canada, 2,923 people died of an opioid overdose between January and September 2017 (read : Overdose Crisis in Canada).