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International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31st)

From 1999 through 2020, over 930,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States. Three-quarters (74.8%) of the 91,799 drug overdose deaths reported in 2020 involved an opioid, and more than 80% of opioid deaths involved synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl). The age-adjusted death rate from drug overdose during 2020 (28.3 per 100,000 population) was 31% higher than the rate of 21.6 per 100,000 in 2019.

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 2021, there were a total of 730 registered IOAD-related events and activities in a total of 37 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; additional resources and videos; and a tributes page to commemorate persons who have died as a result of drug overdose.

Substance Use and HIV and People Who Inject Drugs and HIV – These two web pages from NEAETC’s Online HIV Resource Library focus specifically on the intersection between substance use and HIV and its effects on people who inject drugs. The pages have downloadable education packets about each topic, as well as curated and annotated resources, including fact sheets; surveillance data; guidelines, recommendations, and reports; and compiled resources from a variety of sources.  

Resources from CDC

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed and compiled extensive resources about the overdose epidemic. Its Drug Overdose web pages include the following:

Opioid Basics – has recent statistics and trends in overdose deaths, commonly used terms, and facts about prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl.

Opioid Data Analysis and Resources – has information on overdose waves, trends in death rates, and information about how CDC’s Injury Center calculates opioid overdoses, as well as the data sources CDC uses for its calculations.

Preventing Opioid Overdose – has resources on improving opioid prescribing, preventing and treating opioid use disorder, reversing overdose, evidence-based strategies for prevention, and CDC’s role in overdose prevention, education, and treatment.

Information for Patients – has information about nonopioid treatment options for pain, expectations for opioid therapy, preventing opioid misuse, and patients’ frequently asked questions (FAQs). In addition, this page links to a range of other patient-focused resources, including fact sheets, posters, infographics, and podcasts. This page is also available in Spanish.

Information for Healthcare Providers – has guidelines for prescribing opioids for pain, information on prescription drug monitoring programs for providers, interactive training series, and webinars.


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 Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) 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.

Overdose Death Rates – provides a detailed overview of overdose deaths from 1999 through 2020 through a series of nine annotated graphs, including breakdowns by year, drug type, and gender. Drug-specific overdose death data is also provided for all opioids, heroin, synthetic opioids, and the following drugs, with and without opioid involvement: psychostimulants with abuse potential (primarily methamphetamine), cocaine, and benzodiazepines.

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

Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Research Report: Overview – provides a summary of this report (last revised in December 2021) and links to the full report in English. A Spanish-language summary is also available.

DrugFacts series – includes fact sheets on the following drugs, among others, in question-and-answer format: cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, naloxone, prescription central nervous system depressants, prescription opioids, and prescription stimulants. Fact sheets are also provided on related topics, including: understanding drug use and addiction, treatment approaches for drug addiction, substance use in military life, substance use in older adults, and substance use in women. Spanish-language versions of each fact sheet may also be accessed from the main DrugFacts page.

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 resources on overdose, as well as substance use generally. These include:

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit (also available in Spanish)

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

TIP 33: Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders

Talk. They Hear You. Community Engagement Resources: Media Toolkit

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

Treating Concurrent Substance Use Among Adults

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 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Telehealth for the Treatment of Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

Advisory: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

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