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International Overdose Awareness Day: 31st August


Overdose is a common cause of death in many countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and the UK. International Overdose Awareness Day (IOD) is held every year on August 31 to raise awareness about fatal drug overdoses and promote harm reduction strategies to prevent them.

IOD is observed around the world by people who want to help fight addiction, raise awareness about the dangers of drug misuse, and lower the number of deaths caused by overdose.

What is international overdose awareness day?

International Overdose Awareness Day is a day to remember those we’ve lost to overdose, acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind, and renew our commitment to end overdose and related harms.

On this special day, we honour those who have been affected by overdoses by sharing their stories with others. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Share your story of how someone’s life has been impacted by an overdose death or an addiction experience.

  • Attend events held in your community as part of International Overdose Awareness Day (iOAD). For example, this year iOAD coincides with National Recovery Month in Canada! Some communities will be hosting local events on August 31st; check out our list here for events happening near you!

  • Wear orange clothing on August 31st as part of iOAD Orange Thursday campaign. You can even use our free orange emoji sticker pack below!

How can I observe international overdose awareness day?

  • Share the social media posts.

  • Talk about overdose and drug addiction with your friends and family. Use the hashtag #IOAD to help raise awareness for all types of drug use, including alcohol poisoning.

Fatal drug overdose statistics

In the United States, drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury death, outpacing car crashes and gun violence. Opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine are among the drugs most commonly involved in these overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 116 people die from an opioid overdose every day; this amounts to about 44,000 deaths in 2017 alone.

Overdose deaths have been increasing across all age groups since 1999. However, they are highest among people aged 25-54: men aged 35-54 had almost twice as many fatal overdoses than women in that age range did; men aged 45-54 had more than three times more fatal overdoses than women in that age range did. White Americans also experience higher rates of overdose deaths than black Americans or Hispanics do—but their rate has declined steadily since 2010 while Hispanic rates have increased slightly during that time period

International overdose awareness day social media posts

You can show your support for International Overdose Awareness Day by using the hashtags #IOAD and #OverdoseAwarenessDay on social media. Below are some examples of how you can share your support:

  • Snap a photo of yourself wearing red and post it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #IOAD

  • Change your profile picture to one of these images:

Overdose doesn't mean failure. It means it's time to change the approach to addiction.

Overdose doesn't mean failure. It means it's time to change the approach to addiction.

This is an opportunity for you as a community member, family member or friend of someone who uses drugs and/or alcohol, or as an individual who uses drugs and/or alcohol yourself, to start a conversation about overdose prevention with your friends and family. Let’s talk about what we can do differently so that we don’t lose any more loved ones to preventable deaths as a result of taking too much drug or alcohol.

Today also provides us with an opportunity to educate our peers about how their attitudes towards substance use impact those around them—and how they can help prevent overdose deaths by embracing harm reduction practices whenever possible (e.g., encouraging individuals who are using substances not to mix drugs together).


There's no one fix for drug addiction. There are many ways to get help, but it always starts with acknowledging your disease and seeking treatment. The first step is knowing that there is hope for recovery. If you or someone you love needs help, call us today!

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