International Overdose Awareness Day: It’s time to stop the preventable

August 31, 2021

Matthew Simons

International Overdose Awareness Day began in Melbourne in 2001, an initiative of The Salvation Army in St Kilda. Now a global event, it falls annually on the 31st of August and is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose and overdose deaths. 

The driving force behind the campaign is to raise awareness of overdoses, to remember those lost, and to reduce stigma surrounding overdose deaths. The focus is to stimulate discussion, to challenge stigmatising and societal misconceptions, and to create a support base for families and friends affected. 

The critical message of International Overdose Awareness Day is that deaths from overdose are preventable. 

For families, communities, and for society in general, however, building awareness requires some difficult conversations to occur. Such as talking about drugs and alcohol, talking about risk, knowing the signs of overdose, and knowing how to respond quickly and appropriately if someone is showing signs of overdose.

We can only bring about change by talking about it. These conversations may be challenging, but they can be lifesaving.

Of course, the fact of the matter is that addiction doesn’t discriminate. Knowing this, being aware, and being able to start a conversation with someone who may be struggling with substance misuse – perhaps a person close to us, a family member or a friend that we know and love – can be life-saving. Sometimes, being able to extend the helping hand, is just a matter of being there.

Overdose deaths touch so many lives and leave so many family members and friends asking themselves, “what could I have done to save them?” The answer starts with education, and in building greater awareness. You can get involved today.

If you’d like to learn more, visit the International Overdose Awareness Day website at:

If this information raised any concerns for you, please do speak to your GP, they can help you back to good health, or call a helpline: LIFELINE 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636.

Article by
Matthew Simons