According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States.
- Of those deaths, 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
- On average, 130 Americans die every day from a drug overdose.
And those overdose numbers not only are rising through the years, but are even spiking during the current COVID-19 crisis, creating a growing and deadly epidemic within a crushing global pandemic: The American Medical Association has released an urgent call to action to all U.S. governors and legislatures following documented overdose increases in 40 states in the past few months.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to remember all those loved ones lost to drug overdoses and to commit to prevent future losses of mothers, fathers, siblings, children, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual day of remembrance, education, and engagement. The day was created by one person—Australian crisis worker S.J. Finn—in 2001, and now is observed throughout the world.
“Overdose Awareness Day is, at its heart, an opportunity to commemorate the death of someone loved, with pride,” Finn writes on her website, where she discusses her inspiration for the day and also notes the occasion’s embrace of those struggling with the lingering effects and injuries of non-fatal overdoses. “Whether the person had been a friend, a family member, or a life partner, the shock and sadness when someone dies of overdose is equal to any loss felt when a loved one passes away. It is, however, a grief that in today’s world is complicated by the stigma of drug use, by the isolation and shame that stigma generates.
“And as we reach out, the hand we extend must be one of understanding and compassion to all who have been affected, because this will be the key to our actions as we try to lower the harms in regard to drug use, including death.”
Today and every day, hundreds of thousands of Department of Consumer Affairs medical, nursing, mental-health, and pharmaceutical licensees are trained and ready to provide stigma-free answers to your questions about overdose prevention, drug addiction, safe use of medications, counseling and support, and much more. If you need advice or assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to one of these many dedicated professionals, and to check a professional’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov.