International Overdose Awareness Day - August 31
(Last Updated On: May 9, 2022)


International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31st focuses on reducing the number of deaths caused by overdose and erasing the stigma associated with it.

Besides death, drug overdoses also cause permanent injuries. Both of these scenarios devastate family members and friends of those who have suffered an overdose. This observance seeks to help people cope with the pain and grief overdoses cause. Another important message on this day is to discuss how overdoses are entirely preventable.

The numbers of overdose-related deaths continue to climb. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. This number is more than the total number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. These drugs included both illegal drugs and prescription opioids.

According to statistics, 27% of the world’s drug overdose deaths happen in the U.S. At one time, the U.S. led the world in drug overdose deaths. In 2019, Scotland surpassed the U.S. with the most overdoses resulting in death. Overall, the number of U.S. deaths due to overdose continues to rise. On a worldwide scale, about 450,000 people die from a drug overdose. Effective treatments for opioid dependence are available. However, less than 10% of people who need the treatment are getting it.

Another goal of the day includes education. By empowering the public with knowledge to prevent overdose, they may be able to save a life. First, they must know the symptoms of an overdose, and then they must act. The symptoms include:

  • Unstable vital signs
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Skin that is either cool and sweaty or hot and dry
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting

When any of these symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately.

HOW TO OBSERVE #OverdoseAwarenessDay

Community health groups, medical professionals, and policy-makers organize a variety of events on International Overdose Awareness Day. These events include outreach drives, conferences, and workshops. These events are held to educate the public about the growing problem of overdose. During many of these events, information on how to identify drug dependency and overdose is given.

If you would like to take part, you are encouraged to wear a silver badge or purple wristband. You could also attend an International Overdose Awareness Day in your community. Donate to an organization that works to educate the public on drug overdose awareness and education. One such organization in the United States is the Drug Policy Alliance.

You can also use #InternationalOverdoseAwarenessDay to share on social media.


In 2001, Sally J. Finn and Peter Streker established International Overdose Awareness Day. At the time, they commemorated those who lost their lives to an overdose and support those whose lives have been affected by drug abuse. The Penington Institute in Australia took over the organization of the day in 2012. Events are held in countries around the world and in most states in the U.S.


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