Sector News

  1. International Overdose Awareness Day – August 31st

    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, it aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death, especially for those mourning the loss of a loved one. 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 organize an event of remembrance. To commemorate those who had died from overdose, Sally thought 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 is preventable.


    • to diminish the shame and guilt associated with drug use (licit and illicit)
    • to provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn for loved ones
    • to include the greatest number of people and encourage non-denominational involvement
    • to give community members information about the issue of fatal and non fatal overdose
    • to send a strong message to current and former drug users that they are valued
    • to stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy
    • to provide basic information on the range of support services that exist in locally
    • to prevent and reduce drug-related harm by supporting evidence-based policy and practice
    • to remind all of the risks of overdose

    For more information & resources, visit: International Overdose Awareness Day Website