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2020 International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31)

From 1999 through 2018, more than 750,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States. Nearly 70% of the 67,367 drug overdose deaths reported in 2018 involved an opioid. Overdose deaths involving opioids – including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) – have increased almost six times since 1999. Of the nearly 47,000 U.S. opioid overdose deaths in 2018, about one-third (32%) involved prescription opioids. 

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is an annual global event on August 31 that is designed to raise awareness of drug overdose and spread the message that drug overdose and its devastating consequences are preventable. IOAD was also established to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and to acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or suffered permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. 

First observed in Australia in 2001, IOAD is now commemorated in many nations around the world. During 2019, there were a total of more than 870 registered IOAD-related events and activities in a total of 39 countries worldwide. 

To help your agency and community observe the day, we’ve compiled an annotated list of online resources focusing on drug overdose. 

International Overdose Awareness Day.  This is the official website for IOAD.  It includes an international listing of activities by nation, state, or territory; basic information, facts, and statistics about drug overdose; downloadable resources and videos; and a tributes page to commemorate persons who have died as a result of drug overdose.

Resources from CDC

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed and compiled extensive resources about the opioid overdose epidemic. Its Opioid Overdose web pages are divided into the following sections:

  • Opioid Basics – includes pages focusing on the U.S. opioid epidemic, recent statistics and trends in overdose deaths, commonly used terms, and facts about prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl. 
  • Data Overview – includes pages with detailed statistics and maps on opioid prescriptions; overdose data for prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids; and law enforcement encounters in which persons tested positive for fentanyl. 
  • Overdose Prevention – includes pages on improving opioid prescribing, preventing and treating opioid use disorder, reversing overdose, and CDC’s role in overdose prevention, education, and treatment. 
  • Information for Patients – includes pages on nonopioid treatment options for chronic pain, expectations for opioid therapy, preventing opioid misuse, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and CDC’s Rx Awareness campaign – which tells the stories of people whose lives have been impacted by prescription opioids. 
  • State Information – includes materials on promising strategies to address opioid overdose, state prescription drug laws, state opioid overdose surveillance, and state success stories in responding to the overdose epidemic. It also includes detailed information about Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) – a three-year cooperative agreement that began in September 2019 and “focuses on the complex and changing nature of the drug overdose epidemic and highlights the need for an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and cohesive public health approach,” according to CDC. 
  • Publications and Features – includes selected medical journal articles about opioid overdose; articles from CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; related publications, guides, and meeting reports; and data reports from the Prescription Behavior Surveillance System. 
  • Resource Center – includes an online pressroom, graphics and videos, data resources, information on CDC’s Rx Awareness campaign, and additional resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Resources from NIDA 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a series of web pages that focus on the U.S. opioid epidemic and related issues. These include: 

The National Institutes of Health HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative – The HEAL Initiative was launched in 2018 to provide scientific solutions to the national opioid overdose crisis, including improved treatment strategies for pain, as well as opioid use disorders. 

Opioid Overdose Crisis – includes background information about the U.S. opioid overdose epidemic in question-and-answer (Q&A) format, and provides links to related resources. 

Benzodiazepines and Opioids – describes benzodiazepines and opioids, their medical uses, overdose deaths, and dangers of co-prescribing these drugs. 

Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Research Report – provides an overview of this 2018 report and links to the full report in English and Spanish

Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio) – presents detailed information about naloxone in Q&A format, and links to extensive related resources. 

Opioid Summaries by State – provides state-level opioid prescription and drug overdose data. 

Opioids Trends & Statistics – summarizes data on recent drug use among school-aged children, young adults aged 18 through 25, and adults aged 26 and older.   

Opioid Research Findings Funded by NIDA – links to research reports on NIDA-funded opioid research for the period 2001 to present.

Resources from SAMHSA

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also has extensive resources on opioids, as well as substance use generally. These include: 

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (also available in Spanish

TIP 63: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder – Full Document (Including Executive Summary and Parts 1 through 5) 

Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders (also available in Spanish

Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Criminal Justice Settings 

Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health)

“Rx Pain Medications, Know the Options, Get the Facts” – This is a series of fact sheets that includes the following: