Today, DanceSafe observes International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), a global event held on August 31st each year which aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. It is also a time to pause and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died as a result of drug overdose. Those observing the day help spread the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. To participate, you can find IOAD events in your community here.
Accidental drug overdose is currently the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for people between the ages of 35-54, and is the second leading cause of injury-related death for young people. Overdose prevention programs like good samaritan laws, naloxone distribution, and supervised injection facilities (SIFs), are tried and true ways to prevent overdose related deaths. To take it a step further, once Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs, the country’s drug related overdose rate dropped to one of the lowest in the European Union.
Approaching drug use compassionately and as a health issue rather than a criminal one has shown to have great success in decreasing drug related overdoses and the spread of HIV. Cities and countries across the world are beginning to shift their approach, as SIFs are beginning to garner more support based on the undeniable success rate they have in preventing accidental drug overdose deaths. Seattle became the first city in the US to open a SIF, and other cities such as San Francisco, Denver, and Ithaca, are (hopefully) following suit. Even the American Medical Association, the largest body of physicians in the US, endorses supervised injection facilities as a way to decrease overdose deaths and transmission of infectious disease, and promote treatment.
To become involved, you can donate to your local needle exchange program, advocate for policy reform, and become trained in naloxone administration. Help support the cause and eliminate the needless suffering brought forth by the War on Drugs. Today, and always, we remember those who have fallen victim to a failed system. Find your local needle exchange program here and support the cause.