August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day

The world’s annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind

Time to Remember. Time to Act.

If you haven’t been personally impacted by addiction and/or illicit drug use, you likely know someone who has. As the toxic illicit drug supply grows, overdose is becoming a heartbreaking, common reality for families and friends, and for those using illicit drugs. Every community in BC has felt the devastating impacts of addiction and overdose. In BC alone, over 10,000 people have lost their lives to illicit drug overdose since 2016. From Jan to June 2022 at least 1,095 British Columbians have died due to overdose.

These numbers are staggering. But they don’t describe the emotional and psychological impacts of overdose. The people, their memories, and stories can become lost in statistics and news headlines. International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) was created to raise awareness about drug-related deaths and their impacts. The hope of IOAD is to provide a space to reflect and remember, grieve, and start much needed conversations that help reduce the stigma of substance use.

So, what can you do in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day?

  • Start the conversation – talk to a loved one about your own drug use or theirs. If you’re opening up about your own use, ask them to listen with empathy. If you’re asking someone about their use, be curious and empathetic. Just having the conversation can be an important step in removing the stigma. These are hard conversations, but if met with kindness and curiosity they create powerful moments of connection.
  • If it feels appropriate, let people know you recognize their loss. Talk to a friend or family member about their loved one. Let them know you’re thinking about them and the person who died by overdose.
  • Remember and honour those who have passed by sharing personal stories, lighting a candle, journaling, and any other remembrance practice that feels appropriate for you.
  • Read and share other IOAD resources on your social media pages.
  • Know the signs of overdose and how you can help if you witness a suspected overdose (see linked resources at the end of this article for substance-specific information).

Stigma remains a huge barrier that stops people from reaching out for support. They might fear rejection, judgement and shame from friends, family, or their community. Stigma can also make it hard for loved ones to openly grieve their losses. Let’s help end the stigma of drug use by sharing our personal experiences and stories, providing an open and empathetic ear, and understanding the wide-spread impact of illicit drug overdose.

#IOAD #StopOverdose #EndStigma 

Overdose Resources, by substance:




Psychoactive Substances:


Crystal Methamphetamine: