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Recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day

Today, Thursday, Aug. 31, is International Overdose Awareness Day. This day serves as the world’s annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

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Last year, almost 110,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An overdose is a tragedy that affects not only those who struggled with addiction, but also their family and friends and the people who worked so hard to help them address substance use disorder. Every Aug. 31, we take a moment to honor them on International Overdose Awareness Day.

The day marks a global campaign to end overdoses while also remembering and honoring, without stigma, those who have died from an overdose and those they left behind. It is also a day to recognize the healthcare professionals who have worked tirelessly to help clients on their recovery journeys. We thank you for your amazing and hard work in the communities you serve.

Many will share their personal stories tied to International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) online, and you can join them by using the hashtags #IOAD2023 and #EndOverdose on social media.

Our Recovery Services staff at Burrell Behavioral Health provide comprehensive care for clients who are addressing their substance use disorders. Some of our staff members shared what International Overdose Awareness Day means to them. One said the day is an opportunity to educate people outside of the recovery world about the reality of the overdose crisis.

“To me it means to remember, reflect and speak of all of the people we have loved and lost,” one staff member said. “It's a day just for them. They aren't just statistics. They are our friends, our family and members of our community that we value and miss. Raising awareness for those struggling, there is hope. But we will never forget the one's we've lost.”

Another added: “It’s an acknowledgment of the individuals we have saved from death by overdose, an awareness of the ones we were not able to save, and accepting the responsibility to reach out to those we can still save.”

“International Overdose Awareness Day is a day to remember the ones we have lost to this disease, both the known and the unknown. This day of remembrance encourages me to continue doing the work that we do, to reach out, to offer support and to let others know that no one should struggle from this disease."

Communities around the globe are marking International Overdose Awareness Day in their own ways, from hosting story-sharing gatherings of survivors to holding remembrance walks to offering training sessions on using Narcan. These are among the goals of International Overdose Awareness Day, which also include:

  • Providing an opportunity for people to publicly mourn loved ones in a safe environment, some for the first time without feeling guilt or shame.
  • Including the greatest number of people in International Overdose Awareness Day events and encouraging non-denominational involvement.
  • Giving community members information about the issue of fatal and non-fatal overdose.
  • Sending a strong message to current and former people who use drugs that they are valued.
  • Stimulating discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
  • Providing basic information on the range of support services that are available.
  • Preventing and reducing drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice.
  • Informing people around the world about the risk of overdose.

If you or someone you know could benefit from treatment for substance use disorder, we are here to help. Visit our Recovery Services website to learn the treatments we offer to someone in need of care.


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If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis, please call our toll-free 24-hour telephone line. Our team can help provide immediate assistance.

Southwest Missouri: 1-800-494-7355

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National Help Line: Call or Text 988