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International Overdose Awareness Day

Nick Goldberg

Authored by Nick Goldberg

The Significance of International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held every year on August 31st. The largest campaign of its kind, its purpose is to help prevent drug overdoses by raising awareness, reducing stigma and recognizing the grief of those who have lost loved ones to overdose. Begun in Australia in 2001, it has been run by the Penington Institute since 2012, and is now observed in over 40 countries worldwide. As the overdose death toll has risen greatly since it started, and as the opioid epidemic in particular has become one of the world’s public health crises, the hope each year is to involve the greatest number of people internationally in its observance.

Through this combined effort, International Overdose Awareness Day educates individuals, institutions and communities, promoting evidence-based practices around overdose  prevention and public policy. It also creates a shared space for public mourning without embarrassment, shame or guilt. A further aim is to send a message to those who have suffered or continued to suffer from substance use disorder that they are valued and supported.

To get involved, you can participate in any number of events sponsored by governments and various non-governmental community groups and institutions, or hold your own event with this toolkit as a guide. You could also post a tribute to someone who has died from overdose, or express solidarity on social media using the hashtags #OverdoseAware and #EndOverdose. Additionally, you can show support by purchasing and wearing a badge, wristband or lanyard in honor of the day.  

The Reality of the Opioid Epidemic

As important as International Overdose Awareness Day is at any given time in the crisis, it bears an added grave resonance this year. Reported widely by the New York Times and other media outlets, opioid overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic year reached new tragic heights.

According to CDC data, over 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses during the 12-month period that ended in September, exceeding the death toll of any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s. Amid the lockdowns, unemployment, isolation and uncertainty, overdose numbers saw a sharp rise in spring of 2020—a tragic turnaround from the first drop seen in decades during 2018.Making matters worse, many treatment centers closed or curtailed their services, in addition to reduction in neighborhood support centers providing clean syringes and naloxone.

The greatest culprit is fentanyl, fatal not just to those who use it on its own, but also to those who unknowingly take it as it is increasingly added to other drugs, particularly stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, but also in counterfeit opioid and benzo pills. As the conditions of the ongoing pandemic have compounded the already critical opioid epidemic, then, we approach observance of International Overdose Awareness Day with increased urgency.   

How RCA Treats Addiction for a Lifetime of Recovery

At Recovery Centers of America, we have witnessed the ravages of the opioid epidemic on individuals, families and communities firsthand, and we know the pain of addiction inside and out. To counteract their devastating effects, we have assembled an array of proven clinical programs and support services to do everything within our power to combat the crisis. We offer:

  • Medically monitored detox treatment to ease the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal, and get you through it as safely and comfortably as possible.
  • inpatient treatment to provide you with effective therapeutic techniques, while you restore and rebuild yourself for a lifetime of recovery.
  • outpatient treatment, both in-person and virtual, to continue your recovery through weekly individual, group and family therapy as you go about your life.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help reduce cravings and prevent relapse, while you attend to your long-term recovery.

International Overdose Awareness Day at Recovery Centers of America

Beyond these always available offerings, we at Recovery Centers of America are proud to contribute to this year’s observance of International Overdose Awareness Day, on several fronts.

Narcan is a nasal spray used to counteract an opioid overdose in an emergency situation. Our MAT clinics are offering Narcan training and a dose of it, at no cost, to anyone in the communities who wish to attend. You can register and join these events here:

  • Delaware County Healthcare Clinic
    • Friday 8/27 8:00am & 10:00am (both for patients only) 12pm, and 1pm (open to the public)
    • Saturday 8/28 10am (patients only) 11:30am (open to the public)
  • Bravo Medical
    • Friday 9/10 8:00am & 10:00am (both for patients only) 12pm, and 1pm (open to the public)
    • Saturday 9/11 10am (patients only) 11:30am (open to the public)
  • Trenton Healthcare Clinic
    • Friday 9/24 8:00am & 10:00am (both for patients only) 12pm, and 1pm (open to the public)
    • Saturday 9/25 10am (patients only) 11:30am (open to the public)
  • Woodbridge Healthcare Clinic
    • Friday 10/1 8:00am &10:00am (both for patients only) 12pm, and 1pm (open to the public)
    • Saturday 10/2 10am (patients only) 11:30am (open to the public)

In this joint endeavor, we can rally together against the epidemic in the pursuit of lives free from the burden of addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us now at 1-800-RECOVERY.

Authored by

Nick Goldberg

Nick Goldberg

As a healthcare writer for RCA and a recovery advocate, Nick Goldberg covers all aspects of addiction and treatment. Nick holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University.


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