Today is International Overdose Awareness Day
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August 31, 2012

A Practitioner's Perspective: the silver ribbon signifies the profound loss of someone cherished who has suffered overdose

What is International Overdose Awareness Day?

International Overdose Awareness Day is held on August 31st each year.

Commemorating those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose, it also acknowledges the grief felt by their families and friends.

Celebrated around the world, International Overdose Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, especially for those mourning the loss of family and friends. It also spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

An inspired idea

International Overdose Awareness Day originated in Melbourne, Australia in 2001. Sally Finn, manager of a Salvation Army needle and syringe program, was touched by the sorrow she observed among the friends and families of those who had overdosed. She witnessed their inability to express that sorrow because of the stigma surrounding people who use drugs.

Sally decided to organise an event of remembrance. To commemorate those who had died from overdose, Sally hit upon the idea of distributing ribbons. She thought she’d need 500, she gave out 6,000.

Eleven years later, that one event in the back yard of a suburban crisis centre has evolved into International Overdose Awareness Day, which is now celebrated around the world. Its global significance reflects the universality of the human emotions triggered by the tragedy of overdose – a tragedy that’s preventable.

This year’s model

International Overdose Awareness Day is now organised by the non-profit Australian public health body Anex. after Salvation Army Crisis Services transferred responsibility in early 2012. Its theme this year is Prevention and Remembrance

Anex works to increase understanding of – and improve responses to – the problems arising from the use of illicit drugs, pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

A number of committed individuals and a range of organisations involved in drugs and alcohol and emergency services make up this year’s committee.

For 2012, we are expanding the message with a Prevention and Remembrance theme.

Everyone from governments, councils, health services, police, families and individuals are encouraged to get involved and show their support.

Visit the International Overdose Awareness Day website

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