International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held on August 31, aims to raise awareness of deaths due to a drug-related overdose. It’s an opportunity to remember loved ones who have died as a result of an overdose and a chance to educate the public about this preventable tragedy. In 2012, there were over 40,000 drug overdoses in the U.S., a number that increases every year.
This day originated in Australia in 2001, but it has since expanded to include the U.S., Canada, the U.K., China and many other countries. There are events held across the world that range from candlelight walks and remembrance ceremonies to movie screenings of educational movies and training sessions for overdose prevention. Many organizations also have fundraising events in order to raise money for educational campaigns.
Organizers also hope to use the day as an opportunity to let legislators know about policies such as the 911 Good Samaritan law. It was enacted in order to prevent fatal overdoses by protecting the person who reports an overdose from arrest or prosecution. It also protects the victim of an overdose. It is in effect in over 20 states.
If you want to participate, the organizers offer some suggestions, such as:
• Holding a memorial service, candlelight vigil or ceremony to plant a tree in a local park.
• Inviting a speaker to your school, company or organization to talk about overdose prevention.
• Sending a press release to local news media to let them know about the event.
• Reaching out to local politicians to get their support for policies such as the 911 Good Samaritan law.
You can also participate via social media by using the hashtag #OD15 to promote events locally and to get the conversation started online. This year organizers have created an app, Overdose Aware, which you can download at this website.The app can help you recognize the signs of an overdose and help you figure out how to respond. It lists symptoms of overdose for different drugs and the effects it can have on the brain. There are also marketing materials such as posters and logos available.
The organizers have also produced silver badges that can be worn on August 31st in order to show support of the initiative. According to the website, wearing silver can signify the loss of a loved one or demonstrate support to those who have.
The theme for 2015 is Rethink and Remember. The organizer’s objectives are to reduce the stigma of a drug related death by providing information about drug abuse and how overdoses can be prevented. They also want to give people who have lost a loved one to an overdose a way to publicly mourn them without feeling guilt or shame. Another goal is to let people who are currently struggling with a drug addiction know that they are valued and should seek help.
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