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International Overdose Awareness Day

August 31, 2019 is International Overdose Awareness Day. The aim is to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. In addition, International Overdose Awareness Day focuses on spreading the message that overdose, drug-related permanent injury and death can be prevented.

In order to reduce the stigma surrounding overdose and drug-related deaths, Overdose Awareness Day provides helpful information on recognizing signs of overdose, what to do to in an overdose situation, and provides resources such as needle exchanges, outreach drives, workshops, etc. Awareness, combined with resources and support, can help greatly reduce the stigma surrounding drug abuse which can help encourage those who are struggling to seek the help they need.

Nearly 70,200 people died of a drug overdose in 2017 (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). That means there are more deaths by overdose than by car accidents, firearms and HIV/AIDS. Even more shockingly, more Americans died from a drug overdose in 2017 than died in the entire Vietnam War. A vast majority of overdose deaths occur due to opioid abuse, which has been declared an epidemic and public health emergency by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, accidental overdose is the leading cause of death for those under 50.

Would you recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose? When encountering a person who may be having an adverse reaction to a drug (prescribed or not), you may see one or more of the following: disorientation, agitation, difficulty breathing, inability to keep their head up and focus, slurring of speech, and even vomiting. It is imperative to get help if a person shows any of these signs. Call 911, or get the person to the nearest Emergency Room if it is safe to do so.

Another helpful resource can come from your local pharmacy. Pharmacies provide Narcan (Naloxone) to individuals who are concerned that they, or someone they love, may overdose. Narcan, once inhaled or injected, will reverse the overdose and help a person temporarily until an emergency personnel can get to them. Narcan is highly effective and has saved lives.

If you or someone you know needs help with substance abuse in the Oakland County area, please contact Common Ground’s Sober Support Unit (SSU) at (248) 456-8144.



Other resources:

Police/Emergency 911
Oakland County Access­ (248) 464-6363
Rides for Recovery (248) 858-4911
Hope Not Handcuffs (833) 202-HOPE (4673) or (586)855-4701
Crisis Line Common Ground (800) 231-1127



National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 29). Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved August 12, 2019, from



Author: Kristin Thorpe, Recovery Coach in Common Ground’s Sober Support Unit