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What is “International Overdose Awareness Day”?

by Will Long

August 31, 2021
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International Overdose Awareness Day is a day to remember those who’ve died from overdosing due to substance abuse and to raise awareness about the risks of overdosing. International Overdose Awareness Day is celebrated every year on August 31st and it originated in 2001 by Sally J. Finn in Melbourne, Australia and has been coordinated by the non-profit Penington Institute since 2012. As an organization, the Penington Institute aims to spread risk reduction and tackle drug use both domestically and internationally.

Overdosing: what is it?

“Overdosing” is used to describe the adverse reaction to a toxic level of substances in your body. There are multiple types of toxidromes (medical portmanteau of “toxic” and “syndrome”; describes an effect of toxic drug levels in the body) that can occur when the overdose level has been reached.

In some children who take multivitamins with high levels of iron, they can overdose, causing a severe gastrointestinal reaction. Overdosing is often not intentional and it doesn’t discriminate. In adults, drugs like opioids can basically stop the heart and make it increasingly impossible to breathe. Other drugs like stimulants will cause hypertension and lead to adverse effects like seizures and heart attacks.

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Overdoses in the US

Over 800,000 people in the US have died from overdoses since 1999. Almost 10% of these incidents occurred in 2019 alone. Opioids are the main cause of drug overdose deaths, with synthetics taking the lead in terms of opioid type causing overdoses (fentanyl and methadone, etc.). A steadily increasing amount of overdose deaths involve methamphetamines with or without opioid involvement.

Why we remember…

We remember those gone before their time because their lives had value to us and to others. Overdosing is often unintentional, which is why the downside of substance abuse should always be on our minds, especially for those who have experimented with drugs in the past or who are ignorantly ambivalent about their effects. In honor of those who were taken from us too soon, we wish to instill the knowledge of the cost of taking drugs. Using substances to augment your experience among the crowd always comes with a tradeoff, much like the idea that genius always has an internal foil in the great figures of history.

Learn more about recovery

What does overdosing ultimately teach us as participants and observers? It teaches us that there is a cost to everything in life—and recklessly taking high doses of recreational drugs in the long term is never worth it. Are you worried about your own or a loved one’s experience with substance abuse? Give Landmark Recovery a call at 888-448-0302 or explore the services we provide at our facilities at www.landmarkrecovery.com to learn more about ways you can seek treatment and advice from us to live beyond an addiction that could cause an overdose one day.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.