International Overdose Awareness Day: Time for Reflection, Time for Action

Rebecca Martin

International Overdose Awareness Day is Wednesday, Aug. 31. Last year, 107,000 people in the U.S. died from a drug overdose — most from fentanyl, a very powerful, very deadly opioid. The stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play (the largest domed stadium in the world) doesn’t even hold that many people when expanded to full capacity.

Think about it – 107,000 people. That’s nearly 300 deaths every day or 12 deaths every hour. Let’s take time to honor and remember the people we’ve lost and the many loved ones they’ve left behind. Let’s also take action.

Now more than ever, it is critical that we prevent opioid use, misuse, addiction and death. Together, we can fight the opioid crisis by:

  • Addressing mental health: Get tools from the National Safety Council
  • Talking with family members, coworkers and friends about opioids and the risks of misuse
  • Giving a ride to someone who’s impaired by opioids or other drugs so they don’t get behind the wheel
  • Talking with your doctor and exploring non-opioid options for yourself and your family; affixing a “warn-me” label to your insurance card gets this conversation started
  • Keeping opioid prescriptions locked up and disposing of them properly
  • Making sure friends and family and all those in your community have access to Narcan, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose
  • Supporting public health efforts to make fentanyl testing strips available so anyone using drugs can make sure they do not contain fentanyl
  • Ending addiction stigma

Most importantly, let’s be there for ourselves, our friends, our family, our coworkers and all those in our community — to prevent more tragedies. Dig into these free resources and learn how you can be an active part of the solution:

The statistic of 107,000 deaths is too much for our eyes and brains to process. It’s a staggering toll too high for us to really count. It’s simply too many.

So this year on Aug. 31, let’s focus on one. We each have the power to be the one to make a difference. Let’s change our language — no more calling people “addicts” or “crazy.” Let’s be open and share our own struggles with mental health or substance use. Let’s learn how to recognize an overdose and how to use Narcan, and talk to our employers about having Narcan in the workplace.

Let’s be there to stop overdose, because any one of us could be the one that saves a life.

– Rebecca Martin is a program manager with the National Safety Council