International Overdose Awareness Day Is August 31st

International Overdose Awareness Day Is August 31st

The International Overdose Awareness Day honors and remembers those who have lost their lives to an overdose. The occasion is also an opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about a variety of proven solutions, such as ‘911 Good Samaritan’ laws and the life-saving opiate overdose reversal medication, naloxone.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose death rates in the US have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. In 2009, more than 37,000 people died from drug overdoses, and many of these deaths were caused by prescription painkiller opiate drugs, such as oxycodone.


“Accidental fatal overdose continues to be a serious problem in the U.S,” said Meghan Ralston of the Drug Policy Alliance, “but organizations like the American Medical Association and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators are beginning to come out in support of expanded access to naloxone. It’s a bit of a breakthrough, really, and it’s long overdue. We’re finally seeing a real national shift away from a punitive response to drug overdose to a more health-centered one.”


One health-centered response to overdose receiving national attention in recent months is the ‘911 Good Samaritan’ immunity policy, now passed in nine states including New Mexico, Washington, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.  Momentum is growing, as five states passed a 911 Good Samaritan law in 2012 alone. These policies encourage people who are witnessing an overdose to call 911 without fear of arrest for minor drug law violations. Parents say this common sense law should be replicated across the country.


International Overdose Awareness Day was initiated by the Salvation Army in Australia in 2001. The day is an opportunity for people around the world to publicly mourn loved ones and send a strong message to current and former drug users that their lives are valued and that no one should ever die from a preventable fatal drug overdose.


Source: Drug Policy