International Overdose Awareness Day
Today, August 31st, is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD).
As the leading cause of unintentional death for Americans, drug overdoses have become a fatal and haunting epidemic.
The statistics are stunning. According to the CDC, over 47,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2014.
Though the problem has worsened in recent years. In studies released in 2016 by the National Safety Council, experts found that skyrocketing rates of drug abuse had led to countless fatalities through overdose, allowing the epidemic to surpass mortality rates related to unintentional injury and motor vehicle traffic.
This meant that more people were dying from overdoses than car crashes, which had formerly been the leading cause of accidental death.
Since its inception in 2001, IOAD has continuously aimed to shed light on the dark stigma associated with drug abuse, and to increase understanding of warning signs and preventative action. This day also serves as an honoring of those whom have lost their lives to overdose, creating a supportive forum of solidarity for the loved ones they have left behind.
The event began as a conversation between two advocates for the substance abuse treatment community. From there, it became a movement, starting in Australia and growing toward a worldwide tribute that it is today. Through its educative practice, the day’s organizers aim both to recognize the tragedy of overdose and to facilitate hope for change.
The website for IOAD serves as an interactive platform for those grieving family members or friends, and also as a supportive resource for those currently or formerly battling addiction. With hundred of online tributes hosted on their site, IOAD reminds us of a harrowing truth: we are losing people to drug overdose, every single day.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network estimated that over 5 million ER visits in 2011 were drug-related. With a rising increase in substance abuse, it is certain that those numbers have only continued to grow.
We all know someone, whether directly or indirectly, that has been affected by addiction. It is a link that connects with an insidious power. International Overdose Awareness Day is only a beginning; it is with each day that we must remember those we have lost to substance abuse, as we work to create a brighter future in their honor.
As IOAD states in their mission: it is time to remember. It is time to act.
To learn more about International Overdose Awareness Day, visit http://www.overdoseday.com.