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2021 International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31)

From 1999 through 2019, nearly 841,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States. About 71% of the 70,630 drug overdose deaths reported in 2019 involved an opioid. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids – including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl) – was over six times higher in 2019 than in 1999. The number of deaths from synthetic opioids other than methadone has increased especially rapidly, from 730 in 1999 to about 36,400 in 2019. Deaths from synthetic opioids during 2019 accounted for more than half of all U.S. overdose deaths and nearly three-quarters of the approximately 50,000 U.S. opioid overdose deaths recorded that year.

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 2020, there were a total of 602 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 HIV and People Who Inject Drugs – 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. This page is also available in Spanish.

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.

Overdose Prevention – has resources 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 – has information about nonopioid treatment options for pain, expectations for opioid therapy, preventing opioid misuse, and patients’ frequently asked questions (FAQs). This page is also available in Spanish.

Information for Providers – has guidelines for prescribing opioids for pain, clinical tools, mobile apps, training resources, and provider FAQs.

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 – has background information about the U.S. opioid overdose epidemic in question-and-answer (Q&A) format, and provides links to many 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.

Naloxone Drug Facts – presents detailed information about naloxone in Q&A format.

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

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 2019 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: