The National Safety Council is calling on Americans to observe International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31 by taking time to remember lost loved ones and acting to prevent overdose. Opioid overdose deaths, in particular, have reached alarming numbers in the U.S. in recent years.
Of the 61,311 preventable drug overdoses in the country in 2017, just over 43,000 involved opioids. Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased by nearly 14 percent in 2017 from 2016 and are up 633 percent since 1999.
“Opioid misuse touches one in every four Americans, and these deaths are completely preventable,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president, and CEO of the National Safety Council. “International Overdose Awareness Day is an opportunity for those who have lost loved ones to remember and reflect. It is also a time to reduce stigma and prevent future deaths by supporting education and advocacy efforts.”
Community members are encouraged to commemorate International Overdose Awareness Day in some way, such as hosting or attending a candlelight vigil; participating in an educational program, such as how to administer naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug; disposing of unused medications in their home, or sharing an art-based project memorializing lives lost.
Additional activities include:
- Adding the name of a loved one who died of an opioid overdose to the Celebrating Lost Loved One’s map at https://losttoopioids.nsc.org
- Accessing the NSC Facebook page to get a purple International Overdose Awareness Day frame for your Facebook profile picture, available starting Aug. 20; or sharing the NSC Facebook Live virtual candlelight vigil, starting at 11 a.m. CT Aug. 30
- Becoming a Safety Ambassador by hosting a community fundraising event
- Organizing or attending a naloxone training
- Contacting one’s elected officials about overdose prevention
The National Safety Council provides free Warn Me Labels that are sized to fit on insurance and prescription cards without covering up important information. The labels encourage patients to ask questions about the risks of prescribed opioids and whether there are safer, effective alternatives. Learn more at nsc.org/takeaction.