International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign fighting to end overdose and the stigma that surrounds it. Each year, on the 31st of August, the day is marked by the remembrance of those who have lost their lives to drug overdose, and the family and friends they left behind.
Sadly, the number of drug-overdose related deaths is increasing year on year. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its annual report on drug poisoning on 3rd August 2021, revealing that 4,561 men and women died from drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2020, an increase from 2019, and the highest number since comparable records began in 1993.
Raising awareness of overdose is critical in striving towards a future without it. Stigma directed at drug-related death hinders the progression of drug addiction treatment services and deters individuals with drug misuse disorders from seeking the help they need to recover.
Whilst drug-related deaths are on the rise, funding for addiction treatment and recovery services is not being prioritised. Dame Carol Black recently acknowledged in her independent drug review that ‘The priority, protection and increased funding given to the NHS have not been applied to services for drug dependence. A lower standard of care for this vulnerable and stigmatised population is not acceptable.’
NHS APA Chair Danny Hames also commented that: “drug-related deaths have increased for the 8th year in a row; a 3.8% increase from 2019 to 2020, and this is in addition to the 20% increase in alcohol-related deaths from 2019 to 2020."
“Many people are being left vulnerable and alone and are not feeling able to seek, or are not receiving, the support and interventions they need that could save their lives. As a country which I think prides itself on the quality of our health and social care services, this is a societal crisis.”.
“Many people are being left vulnerable and alone and are not feeling able to seek, or are not receiving, the support and interventions they need that could save their lives. "
What can you do to help support International Overdose Awareness Day?
Follow Overdose Day on Twitter (@OverdoseDay), Facebook (International Overdose Awareness Day) and Instagram (overdoseawarenessday) and post on your own channels about International Overdose Awareness Day using the hashtags #IOAD2021 #EndOverdose #OverdoseAware
If you have lost a friend or relative to an overdose, post a tribute on the Overdose Day website
Read and share our guide on what to do if someone overdoses
Host an event to raise awareness and/or funds for Overdose Day.
Our NHS APA chair, Danny Hames, extends his deepest sympathies to those affected by overdose and reminds us that we must work collectively, in partnership, in order to reverse the shocking and saddening statistics:
“on behalf of NHS APA, we commemorate and extend our heartfelt sympathy to people who have been affected by overdose in the last year and previously. We also recognise that as a group of providers and representatives of the NHS, we need to continue doing all that we can to change these statistics. Collectively, NHS APA must act on everything we have learned from Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs until we can say hand on heart that we’ve done everything we can to reduce the number of lives lost to drug overdose annually.”