International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is held on August 31st each year.

Commemorating those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose, it also acknowledges the grief felt by their families and friends.

Celebrated around the world, International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, especially for those mourning the loss of family and friends. It also spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

An inspired idea

International Overdose Awareness Day originated in Melbourne, Australia in 2001. Sally Finn, manager of a Salvation Army needle and syringe program, was touched by the sorrow she observed among the friends and families of those who had overdosed. She witnessed their inability to express that sorrow because of the stigma surrounding people who use drugs.

Sally decided to organise an event of remembrance. To commemorate those who had died from overdose, Sally hit upon the idea of distributing ribbons. She thought she’d need 500, she gave out 6,000.

More than a decade on, that one event in the back yard of a suburban crisis centre has evolved into International Overdose Awareness Day, which is now celebrated around the world. Its global significance reflects the universality of the human emotions triggered by the tragedy of overdose – a tragedy that’s preventable.

Since 2012, Anex has organised International Overdose Awareness Day after the Salvation Army Crisis Services transferred responsibility.

Everyone from governments, councils, health services, police, families and individuals are encouraged to get involved and show their support. Organisations and individuals are encouraged to develop and register their own local events or ceremonies.

Visit the website for more information.